Ijaz seeks time to testify before judicial panel

Islamabad: Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz today failed to make a scheduled appearance before a judicial commission investigating the memo scandal and sought time till January 25 to come to Pakistan to testify before the Supreme Court-appointed panel.

Shortly after the commission began its third sitting this morning, Ijaz`s lawyer Akram Sheikh said his client wanted more time to come to Pakistan to appear before the panel.

Sheikh said Ijaz had been receiving threats and wanted to get insurance done for the safety of himself and his family. He submitted an application seeking time till January 25 for Ijaz to appear before the three-judge commission.

The lawyer further said that Ijaz had made an appointment at the Pakistani Embassy at Berne in Switzerland today to get a visa to travel to the country. The members of the commission asked Sheikh to clarify once and for all whether Ijaz intended to come to Pakistan.

In a related development, the lawyer of Pakistan`s former envoy to the US Husain Haqqani today contended that Ijaz would not come to Pakistan and was setting all sorts of unnecessary conditions for his visit.

Haqqani was forced to resign after Ijaz made public a mysterious memo that had sought US help to stave off a feared military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May last year.

The envoy`s lawyer, Zahid Bokhari, told reporters that Ijaz was setting frivolous conditions for coming to Pakistan even though the commission had already ordered authorities to deploy army soldiers to protect him when he arrived.

"We want him to be given all possible security so that he can come here to testify before the commission. We will welcome him but we will welcome him with reservations," Bokhari said. .
To help you decide on the links to download, relevant tips have been provided on mouseover. Confusion has surrounded Ijaz`s plans to travel to Pakistan over the past few days.

Geo News channel recently quoted sources close to Ijaz as saying that he would not come to Pakistan as he had been receiving threats.

Haqqani`s lawyer had said yesterday that if Ijaz arrived in Pakistan, Haqqani would request the commission to ask Ijaz to remain in the country till the probe into the memo issue is completed.

Ijaz had earlier sought protection, saying he had received "serious threats" as he was coming to Pakistan to provide evidence "that may not be liked by persons in the federal government".

The businessman has claimed that he drafted and delivered the memo to the former US military chief on the instructions of Haqqani. The government has dismissed Ijaz`s claims and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has described the alleged memo as a "piece of paper".

The government challenged the Supreme Court`s jurisdiction to look into the memo issue but the court formed the three-judge commission to investigate the scandal.