Supreme Court of Pakistan. - File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Former ambassador Husain Haqqani will have to come to Pakistan to testify before the judicial commission investigating authenticity of a controversial memo as the Supreme Court held on Thursday that its earlier order of obligating him to return home whenever called would remain in the field.

A ten-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, assembled to take up a request by the commission's secretary, granted another six weeks to the commission to complete its job of finding the truth behind the controversy.

The commission's two-month deadline is expiring on Friday. Now it will have to complete its inquiry by mid-May.

Advocate-on-Record Chaudhry Akhtar Ali submitted an application of Mr Haqqani seeking a court order for the commission to record his testimony through video link -- a facility earlier provided to Mansoor Ijaz, a central character of the memo scandal.

“The circumstances have drastically changed since I left the country and that risks to my life are manifold,” Mr Haqqani said in the application.

When asked to argue the case, Chaudhry Akhtar said that Mr Haqqani's counsel Asma Jehangir would argue it, but currently she was out of the country on general adjournment.

Advocate Akram Sheikh, representing Mr Ijaz, and Naseer Ahmed Bhutta appearing on behalf of Hafeez-ur-Rehman, drew the attention of the court to some contents of the application and said these were derogatory towards members of the commission headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The court adjourned further hearing for an indefinite period, but took exception to Mr Haqqani's letter directly addressed to the chief justice received by court registrar on March 28.

Mr Haqqani had claimed confidentiality on the contents of the letter.

“The manner in which such letters are directly addressed to the chief justice or the judges has already been discouraged when a similar letter was sent by Mr Ijaz,” the chief justice observed.

“Instead of addressing any letter directly to the chief justice or judges of this court, correspondence should be done with the court in official capacity,” the court said and made it clear that its earlier order of January 30 would remain intact.

The order relates to the lifting of a travel ban allowing Mr Haqqani to leave the country to meet his family in the United States but only after he had undertaken to return to Pakistan any time on four days' notice to join the proceedings, if and when required by the commission.

The court extended the second deadline after Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, who is also appearing before the commission, said he had no objection to the six-week extension.

But Advocate Salahuddin Mengal, one of the petitioners in the memo case, said that one week's extension was sufficient because the commission had already done its major work.

After hearing both the parties, the court, however, agreed with the request made by the commission's secretary for the six-month extension to complete the inquiry on the secret memorandum allegedly written by Mr Haqqani to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen to pre-empt a military takeover.

On January 30, the Supreme Court allowed two months time in addition to 30 days given to the commission on an application also filed by its secretary.

The commission, which is yet to record the statement of Mr Haqqani, has already given him four opportunities to accept or deny documents produced by Mr Ijaz during his testimony.

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