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JC to record Ijaz statement via videolink

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD – The judicial commission formed by the Supreme Court to probe the memogate scandal will record Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz’s statement through video link on February 22. The meeting of the judicial commission commenced at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday to resolve the issue of recording Ijaz’s statement.

The commission was headed by the Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Qazi Faiz Essa. It was decided that Ijaz’s statement would be recorded at the Pakistani High Commission in London through video-link. It was also decided that the secretary of the memo commission Jawad Abbas would travel to London before the statement is recorded, and would collect all documentary and physical evidence provided by Ijaz. Copies of all documents received would be provided to all parties, and Ijaz may even be cross-examined if required.

Ijaz’s counsel, Akram Sheikh reassured the commission that his client would be present at the Pakistani High Commission in London on Feb 22 to record his statement.

Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq only showed conditional acceptance to recording the statement through video. He argued that the verification and examination of the evidence would be difficult through video.

However, former Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani’s lawyer Zahid Bukhari argued that his client should also be allowed to record his statements through video-link if Ijaz is allowed to do so.

Meanwhile, Raza Rabbani, who heads the parliamentary committee also probing the memo issue, said that a statement from Ijaz had still not been received by the committee. Rabbani said that – unlike the judicial commission – the parliamentary committee would not record Ijaz’s statement through video-link, and that the Pakistani-American businessman would have to appear before the committee to testify.

Earlier during the day, Akram Sheikh had confirmed that the affidavit of his client stating that he would be presented before the commission in London would be expected within the two hours.

However, petitioner Barrister Zafarullah blamed Ijaz for making up excuses to avoid his visit to Pakistan. He argued that the commission should not go abroad to record the statement.

The commission then took a break to discuss whether or not interviewing Ijaz through video link would be appropriate.

On Thursday, during its meeting the commission asked Akram Sheikh what guarantee he could give about his client’s appearance if he was asked to appear before the commission in London or Zurich.

After contacting Ijaz, Advocate Sheikh informed the commission that his client could not provide any guarantee.

The commission had also summoned Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and warned him of contempt proceedings if he failed to reach the IHC building within 30 minutes.

 
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