Ex-FIA chief Tariq Khosa refuses to probe Memogate

Islamabad: Former Federal Investigation Agency chief Tariq Khosa, who had led Pakistan`s investigation of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, on Saturday refused to head a commission set up by the Supreme Court to probe the secret memorandum sent to the US military in May.

In an order issued on December 1, the apex court had asked Khosa to head a commission that will conduct a three-week-long investigation into the memo that was made public by controversial Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz.

Pakistan`s former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani, was forced to resign after Ijaz claimed he had drafted the memo. Sources close to Khosa were quoted by TV news channels as saying that the former police officer had turned down the Supreme Court`s request.

The court is now expected to approach other retired police officials to head the probe.

The Supreme Court`s decision to set up the commission and to seek responses on the "Memogate" controversy from top civil and military officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani, has been criticised by the ruling Pakistan People`s Party (PPP) and sections of the legal fraternity.

Senior PPP leader Babar Awan, a close aide of Zardari, has contended that the apex court issued its order without giving the government a chance to argue its case in court.

He further said only the executive had the authority to constitute a commission to probe issues like the memo.

The apex court had issued its order in response to nine petitions seeking a probe into the secret memo, including one filed by main opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

Before the Supreme Court issued its order, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had asked the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to probe the issue.

Reacting to the apex court`s ruling, the Pakistan Bar Council yesterday said the body could not shut its eyes when "one institution is encroaching upon the domain of the other" as this could lead to chaos and anarchy.

The memo issue should not have been brought in the apex court on the initiation of a single political party and the court should not have taken up such political issues when a parliamentary committee was already looking into the matter, the PBC said.

The secret memo had purportedly sought help from the US military to prevent a coup by the Pakistani military in the aftermath of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.