Pak govt to file plea seeking review of SC order

Islamabad: Pakistan government will file a petition seeking a review of the Supreme Court`s decision to form a commission to probe the memo scandal. Former Law Minister Babar Awan, who is the Vice President of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party, told the media that the government will approach the apex court for a review of its order issued yesterday to form a three-member judicial panel.

"We can file the review petition because it is the requirement of the Constitution," Awan told the media. Other officials also insisted that the memo at the centre of the controversy was a "pack of lies" and the government could file a review petition.

The apex court on Friday ruled that several petitions seeking a probe into the memo scandal were maintainable and asked the commission to complete its inquiry in four weeks. Analysts noted that the court had ensured that all members and support staff of the commission were drawn from the judiciary and said this was a move aimed at insulating the panel from possible interference by the government.

The three members of the commission are the Chief Justices of the High Courts of Islamabad, Balochistan and Sindh. A district and sessions judge of Islamabad was nominated the Secretary of the commission.

The PPP-led government was thrown into a crisis when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz first revealed details of the memo in an article written in the Financial Times on October 10.

The memo sought the US help to prevent a feared military takeover in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

Babar Awan criticised opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif for filing a petition on the memo issue in the apex court and said: "Today is a day of mourning." He said by going to the court, Sharif had proved that he had no confidence in Parliament.

The presidency did not react to the court`s verdict and presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: "I cannot comment on the Supreme Court`s decision because I have not seen it so far."

Supreme Court Bar Association President Yasin Azad said there should not be a confrontation between state institutions due to the memogate scandal. The government had challenged the apex court`s jurisdiction to hear the petitions on the memo, saying a Parliamentary panel was already investigating the matter.

The chiefs of the army and ISI urged the court to order an independent inquiry.
Ijaz claimed he had drafted and delivered the memo to the US military on the instructions of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan`s former envoy to the US. Haqqani was subsequently asked to resign by the government.

PPP leaders and rights activists have criticised the Supreme Court`s ruling, saying it went against various fundamental rights and could swing the civil-military equation in favour of the powerful army.

Leading rights activist Asma Jahangir, who is Haqqani`s lawyer, described the apex court`s judgement as disappointing. She pointed out that if Haqqani was aggrieved by something that the commission did, he could not go to anyone to redress his grievances. "His due process has been taken away," she said, adding the order affected issues related to civil-military relations "in which sadly the courts have now more or less shifted their weight (to) the (security) establishment."

The powerful military had used the government`s opponents to take the matter to court, Jahangir said. "When there is going to be a tussle between what the military says and what the civilian government says, which are two different things, then there has to be a showdown and where will that take us?" she questioned.