No end in sight

March 19, 2012

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THE ‘memogate’ inquiry refuses to end. When Husain Haqqani offered on Sunday to expedite the proceedings by giving his testimony via video link from London, the inquiry commission ordered Mr Haqqani to appear in person before it, as per the terms of his departure from the country. It is not hard to fathom Mr Haqqani’s reasons for offering to testify via video link: he cannot really be relishing the circus that will be his return to Pakistan and his appearance before the commission again. But whatever the former ambassador’s reasons, anything that could help expedite the end of the memogate saga ought to be grabbed as eagerly as possible.

After all, the performance that Mansoor Ijaz has put in as the star witness has been so bizarre and underwhelming that the possibility that Mr Haqqani is in serious legal jeopardy has almost evaporated. Mr Ijaz’s penchant for making an outrageous allegation one day and then quietly suggesting he isn’t sure of its veracity the next has shredded his credibility to the point of nothingness. The latest bizarre claim that Mr Ijaz came up with under cross-examination on Sunday was that Mr Haqqani was dreaming of becoming the president of Pakistan with the help of the US. Many things are possible in Pakistan, and much bizarreness has been recorded in the history of this country, but the possibility of Mr Haqqani becoming president, even with outside help, must surely be regarded as one of the more ridiculous theories. The former ambassador may be a political chameleon and has always known how to land on his feet, but some political feats are surely beyond even the wiliest of minds.

The country, which has taken a look at the meat in memogate and collectively yawned, now has to wait another week for Mr Haqqani’s testimony denying that which hasn’t really been proved against him in the first place, no matter how lax the evidence standard employed. Perhaps it is helpful to remember the opportunity cost of the memogate commission hearings. Three serving chief justices of high courts are spending long hours wrestling with borderline silly claims and counter-claims in Islamabad while the infinitely more serious work of managing high courts weighed down by myriad administrative problems has been sidetracked. Because they are under orders from the Supreme Court, the high court chief justices on the memogate commission have to try and do their utmost to fulfil the SC’s orders. So perhaps the SC may want to think about issuing fresh instructions to the memo commission to wrap up its work as quickly as possible.