ISLAMABAD, April 12: The commission investigating the memo scandal directed former ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani on Thursday to submit details of his property and asked the federal government to ascertain the value of the property.
The commission again turned down Mr Haqqani’s request to record his testimony via video link and expressed the hope that he would record his statement at the next hearing on April 26 in Islamabad.
The commission’s chairman, Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, said: “We could have passed an adverse order against Mr Haqqani, but we hope he will reconsider his decision and appear before the commission on April 26 at 9am.”
The commission said it had pointed out at the last hearing that Mr Haqqani’s absence was deliberate, but as a matter of grace it had provided another opportunity to him to appear before it on April 12 and record his statement.
The commission also took up the remarks reportedly made by former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir against the commission, but Mr Haqqani’s counsel Zahid Hussain Bohkari said it was her individual act and she did not issue the statement on his client’s advice.
He said the commission should pay no heed to the statement because she might have been misquoted by the newspaper and any adverse order in this regard would open a new Pandora’s box.
The commission was of the opinion that the lawyer of that stature could not make derogatory remarks against the judiciary and advised the newspaper to be careful while reporting on scandalous issues.
The commission examined in camera details of the discretionary fund spent by Mr Haqqani during his ambassadorship, but did not bring it to its record. The commission, however, told Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani that if it needed answers to some questions it would send these to the ministry in a sealed envelope and the ministry should also send its reply to the commission’s secretariat in a sealed envelope.
It regretted that foreign ministry officials wanted to please both the government and the commission by telling false stories. The officials, Justice Isa said, did not properly maintain the record of Mr Haqqani’s BlackBerry sets but claimed that their inventory was accurate.
Mr Haqqani’s counsel said his client had filed in the Supreme Court an application requesting the recording of his statement via video link and the court was likely to take up that matter on April 19.
Zahid Bohkari said Ms Jahangir would return to the country on April 16 and she would appear before the apex court on behalf of Mr Haqqani. He requested the commission to adjourn the proceedings as his client could not come to Pakistan for recording of his testimony because of security and health concerns.
PML-N’s lawyers Naseer Bhutta, Mustafa Ramday and Salahuddin Mengal as well as American businessman Mansoor Ijaz’s counsel Sharjeel Adnan Sheikh opposed the request for adjournment.
The PML-N lawyers suggested that the commission could attach the property of Mr Haqqani, issue his arrest warrants, initiate a contempt of court case or register an FIR against him for his disobedience.
Advocate Sharjeel Sheikh requested the commission to suspend the right of representation of audience to Mr Haqqani and not allow his counsel to speak unless the former ambassador personally appeared before the commission.
He said Mr Haqqani was repeatedly defying the commission’s orders and, therefore, it should not entertain any of his applications.
Deputy Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri assured the commission that the government would provide foolproof security to Mr Haqqani upon his arrival in Pakistan. He said the government had sent notices to the residence and workplace of Mr Haqqani in the US and expressed the hope that he would come to attend the commission’s proceedings.