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Star witness testifies

The star witness in Memogate case, Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, on Wednesday finally recorded his testimony via a video link from Pakistani High Commission in the UK. The hearing will resume today (Thursday). Ijaz read out the same statement that he had submitted earlier to the Supreme Court, providing no new evidence to substantiate his claims about the alleged memo.

He informed the commission that he had written a letter through his attorney to Research In Motion (RIM) requesting it to retrieve the data of conversation that purportedly took place between Haqqani and him. The RIM had replied that they usually maintained data for a period of three months.

The proceedings of the case started at 14.30 (PST). A video link was established between Mansoor Ijaz at London and the Judicial Commission at Islamabad. Two large plasma displays were made available at Islamabad High Court complex for wider viewing angles of proceedings of the judicial commission.

Recounting his contacts with Pakistani leaders, Ijaz said he met the then ISI chief, General Ehsan-ul-Haq, in Brussels in 2003. He further said he met the then military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, in London in 2005-06. According to him, he met President Asif Ali Zardari in May 2009.

Ijaz said he met incumbent ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha at a London hotel last year on the request of a high-level ISI official. The meeting, which took place at Intercontinental Hotel, lasted for four hours. General Pasha asked him about his relationship with Hussain Haqqani and the nature of contacts. He claimed that his contacts in relation to the alleged memo with the then Pakistan envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani, began on May 3, 2011 - a day after the US operation against Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

He claimed he received a Blackberry message from Haqqani. Later, a telephonic conversation took place between him and the then Pakistan envoy. Ijaz testified that Haqqani had informed him that there was a serious problem on the ground in Pakistan as military was putting pressure on the President of Pakistan and government. "Haqqani told me that the army wants to topple government," Ijaz claimed.

He displayed a one-page note in video-conferencing and claimed that it was taken by him on telephone from Haqqani. Ijaz said Haqqani dictated a message. He wanted him [Ijaz] to send that message to US Admiral Mike Mullen. Haqqani knew he (Ijaz) would manage to deliver that message to Admiral Mullen through former US Security Advisor to President General James Jones.

Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar-ul-Haq objected on one point, arguing that it would be necessary to conduct forensic tests on the BlackBerry messages that Ijaz had produced to support his claims. Ijaz agreed to surrender his BlackBerry to the secretary of investigation commission with a condition that the rest of data in his mobile was confidential and it would be allowed to be deleted before the set would be handed to secretary.

He produced the bill of his telephone which also carried the purported mobile numbers of Haqqani. At one point Zahid Bukhari, counsel of Hussain Haqqani, objected to Ijaz's conduct and said he was constantly "toying" with his BlackBerry set and trying to distort evidence.

Zahid also sought time till Monday so that he could comfortably reach the UK to cross examine Ijaz in person. But Ijaz declined to stay in London till Monday and urged the commission that the testimony should be completed till Saturday.

A team of lawyers representing PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who had petitioned the apex court over the memo, was already in London to cross-examine the star witness.

Earlier, Zahid Bukhari informed the media that he could not proceed to London as the British High Commission in Pakistan had delayed its issuance of visa. He said he would and two of his associates would go to London to cross-examine Ijaz. Ijaz submitted some evidence to the secretary of the investigation commission.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2012


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