Ijaz deposes before Pak commission from London
Ijaz came to the Pakistan High Commission in London to record his statement through video conferencing while the three-judge commission appointed by the Supreme Court conducted the proceedings from Islamabad. Ijaz, the main accuser in the memo scandal, had earlier refused to travel to Pakistan to record his testimony citing security concerns.
The businessman read out a statement that he had submitted earlier to the Supreme Court but did not provide any new evidence to back up his claims about the alleged memo, TV news channels here reported. Recounting his contacts with Pakistani leaders, Ijaz said he had met then ISI chief Gen Ehsan-ul-Haq in Brussels in 2003. He said he had met former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in London in 2005 and that he had last met President Asif Ali Zardari in 2009.
Ijaz said he met current ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha in a London hotel last year. He acknowledged that he currently had few contacts with Pakistani leaders. He claimed his contacts with Pakistan`s former envoy to the US Husain Haqqani, for the alleged memo, began on May 3 last year ? a day after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. He claimed Haqqani had told him that the military was pressuring Zardari and the government.
In Islamabad, Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq told the commission it would be necessary to conduct forensic tests on the BlackBerry messages that Ijaz had produced to support his claims. Haq said the commission`s secretary, who was in London for the video-conferencing, was not an expert on electronic devices and could not verify the authenticity of the BlackBerry messages.
Zahid Bukhari, the counsel for Husain Haqqani, objected to Ijaz`s behaviour during his deposition and said he was constantly "playing" with his BlackBerry phone. Bukhari said objections would be raised later about the way Ijaz`s statement was being recorded. "This is not how testimonies are recorded," he said.
Earlier in the day, Ijaz drove to the Pakistan High Commission in a cab. He told reporters before going inside that he would tell the truth and expose the reality about the memo. After taking a vow to tell the truth, Ijaz informed the commission in response to a question that he cannot speak Urdu. A team of lawyers representing PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who had petitioned the apex court over the memo, is in London to cross-examine Ijaz.
Haqqani`s lawyer could not travel to Britain as he was issued a visa late on Tuesday. Reports said Ijaz`s deposition was expected to continue tomorrow. Two large plasma screens were installed in a room at the Islamabad High Court complex for the proceedings of the judicial commission. Ijaz submitted some evidence to the secretary of the commission, who sealed the material.
Haqqani was forced to resign as Pakistan`s envoy to the US after Ijaz made public the alleged memo in October last year. Ijaz claimed he had drafted and delivered the memo to the former US military chief, seeking help to avert a possible military coup, on Haqqani`s instructions.
The government and Haqqani have dismissed Ijaz`s claims. The memo triggered a tense standoff between the civilian government and the powerful military. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had criticised the handling of the memo issue by the army and ISI chiefs.