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ISI had not planned coup in Pakistan: Pasha

Islamabad: Former ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha told a Pakistani judicial commission on Thursday that the military had not planned a coup after the US raid in Abottabad that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May last year.

"If there was a threat, the ISI would have known about it," Pasha said while deposing before the commission that is investigating a mysterious memo that had sought US help to stave off a feared military takeover in Pakistan after the killing of bin Laden.

The Supreme Court formed the three-judge commission after American businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public the memo, which he claimed was drafted and delivered to the US military on the instructions of Pakistan`s former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani.

The government has denied Ijaz`s claims. Though Ijaz had also claimed that the military was planning a coup after the killing of bin Laden, Pasha told the commission that he rejected the businessman`s statement.

He said there was no such plan by the army after the covert US raid against bin Laden in Abbottabad. Pasha said he agreed with Ijaz`s statement regarding their meeting in London.

He told the commission that the ISI`s media wing had informed him about Ijaz`s article in the Financial Times in which the businessman had first referred to the memo. The former spy chief said he consulted only the military leadership after finding out about Ijaz`s article.

"I wanted to know about the author of the memo and directed a source to contact Mansoor Ijaz, who agreed to meet me and share details but outside Pakistan and the US," Pasha said. .

Pasha said after the military leadership asked him to gather more details on the issue, a meeting with Ijaz was arranged in a London hotel on October 22, 2011.

This meeting continued for four hours. "I saw probably 35 BlackBerry Messages on Ijaz`s mobile which were exchanged between him and Haqqani," he said.

Pasha said he verbally informed army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani about his meeting with Ijaz on October 24 and that he met President Asif Ali Zardari and briefed him about the issue on November 18.

The commission has resumed its hearings after being given a six-week extension by the Supreme Court. Its term was scheduled to end on March 31.

During today`s proceedings, the commission directed Haqqani, who was forced to resign last year, to give his consent to Research In Motion and to waive his privacy rights to allow the retrieval of data from his BlackBerry phone.

The commission also rejected Haqqani`s application for adjournment of hearings due to his ill health and till a decision is made by the Supreme court on his application seeking permission to record his statement from abroad via video link.

The commission also disposed of an application from Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik after recording his statement. Malik had sought permission to depose before the commission after Ijaz alleged he had links with India RAW spy agency.

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