Memo issue: Judicial panel term extended by six weeks

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court today extended by six weeks the term of a judicial panel probing a mysterious memo that sought US help for staving off a feared coup after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May last year.

A 10-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry granted the extension in response to a petition from the three-member judicial commission.

The bench observed that the commission`s probe is of great importance and the panel should conclude its work soon.

The current term of the commission is set to end on March 31.

The commission was formed after Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public the alleged memo late last year.

Pakistan`s envoy to the US Husain Haqqani was forced to quit after Ijaz claimed he had drafted and delivered the document to a senior US military official on Haqqani`s instructions.

However, Ijaz has been unable to provide any substantial evidence to back up his claims during his deposition before the commission.

Ijaz recorded his statement via a video link from London, saying he could not travel to Pakistan due to security concerns.

The apex court bench also heard a separate petition filed by Haqqani`s counsel Asma Jahangir which asked that the former envoy too should be allowed to record his statement via video link.

Jahangir`s aide informed the apex court that she would return to Pakistan from a foreign trip by April 17, following which the bench said it would take up Haqqani`s petition on her return.

In his petition, Haqqani said he had "grave security concerns" because of "frivolous" and "sensational" allegations made by Ijaz during his testimony. Haqqani, who is currently abroad, further said his family feared for his life in case he travelled to Pakistan.