SC summons foreign, interior secretaries in Memogate case

CJP Nisar had recently taken notice of case against former Pakistani envoy to US Husain Haqqani

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar has directed the secretaries of the foreign and interior ministries to appear before the apex court in the Memogate case on Wednesday (today).

The scandal erupted in 2011 when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed to have received an 'anti-army' memo from Husain Haqqani, the then-Pakistan envoy in Washington DC, for US joint chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen.

As a three-member Supreme Court bench resumed hearing the case on Tuesday, the chief justice inquired into the whereabouts of Haqqani and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) head.

The chief justice remarked that a person has run away after giving a statement, adding that this has now become a matter of the court and country’s honour.

During the hearing, CJ Nisar summoned Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar to ask when the government will arrest and bring back Haqqani from the US.

The chief justice observed that the court is dissatisfied with the progress in the case so far, terming it a mere eyewash.

The court then summoned the secretaries of the interior and foreign ministries on Wednesday.

CJP takes notice 

The chief justice, while hearing a case related to voting rights of overseas Pakistanis, had summoned details of the Memogate case on January 29.

In a statement reported on Feb 5, Haqqani said there were four chief justices after chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry but none touched the case, adding that six years ago a nine-member bench had heard the case and wondered why just a three-member bench is taking it up now.

"It has been six years since I submitted a review petition to correct legal mistakes in the case. Will the court hear this case too?" he wondered.

Moreover, in a likely reference to Chief Justice Nisar, Haqqani claimed he will not come to Pakistan on "Baba Rehamtay's" direction, as his orders do not extend beyond Pakistan.

On February 15, the apex court had issued arrest warrants for the production of the former ambassador.

Responding to reports of the warrants, Haqqani stated on Twitter that it was "sad that highest court of Pakistan persists with such antics for local TV news coverage. Such political 'warrants' have not been honored abroad in the past, won't work now".

The memo controversy

The memo sent by Haqqani in 2011 allegedly mentioned a possible army coup in Pakistan following the US raid in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden.

It sought assistance from the US for the then-Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government for 'reigning in the military and intelligence agencies'.

A judicial commission tasked to probe the case had concluded that the memo was authentic and authored by the former envoy.

The commission said the purpose of the memo was to convince American officials that Pakistan's civilian government was 'pro-US'.

The scandal, taken to the Supreme Court by then opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and several others, had led to Haqqani's resignation and subsequent exit from the country as the hearing was under way.

In September last year, Haqqani told Geo News "Memogate was just media noise, which is why the case has never been decided by the Supreme Court. That it disrupted lives without a conclusion is a sad reflection on how things work in Pakistan. I have moved on".

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, in March 2017, called for a parliamentary commission to investigate Haqqani's claims in a Washington Post op-ed that his 'close ties' with the US enabled the bin Laden raid.

Asif also stated that the former envoy had left Pakistan on the promise that he would return, but never did.

Following the article's publication and subsequent media uproar, the PPP also accused Haqqani of "treason and maligning the country’s armed forces at the behest of anti-Pakistan elements”.

Most recently, on January 21, media reports stated that three FIRs were registered against Haqqani in two police stations of Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for delivering hate speeches and writing against the armed forces and sovereignty of Pakistan.