Forensics and data may not resolve memo issue

By Asmat Zubair

ISLAMABAD: Although the focus so far in the media and the Supreme Court has been on the authenticity or otherwise of the text and BlackBerry messages allegedly exchanged between Mansoor Ijaz and Husain Haqqani, the real task of the memo commission might be to address the non-forensic questions about the origins of the memo.

According to legal experts who have read Mansoor Ijaz’s 81-page affidavit and additional submissions before the Supreme Court, his essential claim is that Husain Haqqani told him to write the memo in a telephone call from a London hotel. The rest of the material is included only to create the impression of close contacts between Ijaz and Haqqani and has no direct relevance to the memo.

As the Supreme Court heard arguments only about maintainability of the petitions about the memo, Haqqani’s lawyer Asma Jahangir was not allowed to make arguments about the substance of Mansoor Ijaz’s claim and point out the flaws in his story.

Careful reading of all the 89 texts and BBM messages submitted by Mansoor Ijaz shows that not once has Haqqani mentioned the memo in any of the alleged messages. Even if forensic evaluation determines that these messages were exchanged, Haqqani’s alleged connection to the memo still depends on Mansoor Ijaz’s claim of what was discussed in their phone call.

Although the DG ISI Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha found Mansoor Ijaz’s claim sufficiently reliable to demand a forensic inquiry, the judicial commission will have to address the political question of why Pasha and Mansoor Ijaz met on October 22 and why Mansoor Ijaz wrote the article in the Financial Times on October 10 that attracted the Pakistani military’s concerns leading to the Pasha-Ijaz meeting.

It is interesting to note that Ijaz says in his affidavit to the Supreme Court (Page 4), “At no time did I meet Haqqani in person” even though the very first Blackberry message sent by him to Haqqani on May 9, according to him, (Page 6 of affidavit) said, “I’m in Monaco but it’s no problem for me to fly up. Takes 90 minutes.” ….

Read more » The News

BlackBerry maker vows privacy safeguard amid probe

By AFP

OTTAWA — Research In Motion vowed Tuesday to defend the legal privacy rights of BlackBerry users after a judicial commission in Pakistan ordered copies of smartphone communications in a scandal probe.

The Canadian firm reacted to news that a Pakistani commission was seeking records for a probe into an unsigned memo purported to ask for Washington’s help to rein in Pakistan’s military.

The highly controversial memo was allegedly an attempt by a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari to enlist the US military’s help to head off a military coup in May in Pakistan. …..

Read more » http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iH0E_CyR0Lc1k_N63vVDrY0MThqg?docId=CNG.3ec81592b40bb5358c1575a97cd5b5ce.201

Salmaan Taseer: optimism assassinated – By Dr Mohammad Taqi

The snake-bitten 2011 comes to an end as I sit struggling to collect my thoughts. There are certain moments in life that one wishes one does not have to relive. That unusually dark and cold January 4, 2011 dawn in Florida was one such moment. I had turned on my phone first thing in the morning to get my daily news fix. But the banner headline was anything but a fix. Stunned, dazed and shocked; these words cannot begin to describe that overwhelming feeling. It was almost like I stood outside my body. It was not real.

Salmaan Taseer, the larger than life governor of the largest Pakistani province, Punjab, had been assassinated in broad daylight in Islamabad. The killer, Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the governor’s elite police guard, had pumped a magazine-full of bullets into Taseer, at point-blank range. The governor had died on the spot. I cannot help but think of Taseer’s December 31, 2010 message on the micro-blogging website Twitter: “Peace prosperity & happiness for new year (1 1 11) I’m full of optimism [sic].” ….

Read more » Daily Times

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More on Salmaan Taseer » BBC urdu

India Vs Pakistan – In Pakistan courts goes to the army cheif!

Indian army chief goes to court.

Indian army chief; being humiliated or humiliating himself?

By Omar Ali

The Indian army chief is in the news with a controversy about his date of birth. And as is usually the case when controversy reaches the public, other matters have also reached the press. In this case, an application to get a better plot of land in Haryana.

The fact that the defence ministry and the Haryana government have turned down his demands has generated interest in Pakistan, where the army chief is the one who issues orders and the defence ministry and the department of urban lands execute said orders. To many in Pakistan this is a sign of how different things are in India. Different in a good way. …

Read more » Brown Pundits

Treason? Under what Constitution?

By Mahmood Adeel

Asma Jahangir’s resignation as Husain Haqqani’s lawyer in the memo case surprised quite a few people. She had originally taken the case as a matter of principle based in her experience as a respected human rights lawyer. She reviewed the facts of the case, looked at the way it was proceeding, and immediately became concerned about the precedent that was being set. From the beginning until the end, she said her concern was not specific to her client but to the greater principles of constitutional law. Ironically, what has not been discussed much in the endless analysis of the memo case are not the facts – who was involved, who knew what and when did they know it – but the principles of the case.

Please allow me to clear up one apparent misconception about this case: There has been no proven evidence of anyone’s involvement except for three people, all Americans: Mansoor Ijaz, Gen Jim Jones and Adm Mike Mullen. That is supposedly why the Supreme Court has set up a commission – to investigate for evidence. If the evidence was already proven, there would not be need for an inquiry commission, would there? But let us assume for the sake of this post that some genie will present to the court fool proof evidence that someone from the federal government was involved in the memo. Many people are suggesting that it constitutes treason under Article 6. Is this true?

According to Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan, “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.”

Continue reading Treason? Under what Constitution?

Pakistan: Now or Never?

Pakistan’s political crisis

By Reuters

Excerpt;

Never in the history of Pakistan has a democratically elected civilian government served out its full term and then been replaced by another one, also through democratic elections. It is that context that makes the latest political crisis in Pakistan so important. ….

…. The army itself has shown no inclination to run the country directly, and it already controls the issues that matter most to it – foreign and security policy. It has barely disguised its frustration with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari — who also leads the PPP ….

Read more » REUTERS

RIM Asked to Hand Over Memogate Data to Pakistan Court

By Tarek Fatah

this involves the private messages between two individuals and as such RIM is unlikely to share this data — if it exists — with Pakistan’s Supreme Court

Research in Motion (RIM) and the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad have become the latest actors in the so-called “memogate affairthat observers believe is a slow-motion palace coup by Pakistan’s military aimed at unseating the civilian administration of President Zardari.

In a decision on Friday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the country’s attorney general to demand RIM hand over BBM messages allegedly exchanged between the former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, and American businessman Mansoor Ijaz. The exchanges involve an unsigned memo handed over to to former American Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, requesting U.S. intervention to stave off a military coup in Islamabad.

The latest tug of war between the government of President Zardari and his generals erupted on Oct. 11, 2011 when the Financial Times ran an op-ed titled “Time to take on Pakistan’s Jihadis.”

In the article, Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman, claimed he was contacted by a Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, and asked to contact Admiral Mullen to prevent a military coup from taking place in Pakistan. The military was outraged and wanted heads to roll. Ijaz wrote:

Early on May 9, a week after U.S. Special Forces stormed the hideout of Osama bin Laden and killed him, a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, needed to communicate a message to White House national security officials that would bypass Pakistan’s military and intelligence channels.

As evidence, the American businessman handed over copies of his alleged BlackBerry message exchanges with Haqqani to Pakistan’s feared military intelligence force, the ISI. On his part, Haqqani categorically denied that he had asked Ijaz to draft any message and dismissed the messages cited by Ijaz as a fabrication.

As a result of the controversy, Ambassador Haqqani — a man not liked by his country’s jihadis, whether civilian or military — was forced to resign his post and ordered back to Pakistan, where he was placed under security watch and barred by the military from leaving the country.

The country’s parliament set up a commission to get to the depth of the matter, but this inquiry was upstaged by opposition politician Nawaz Sharif who took the matter to the country’s Supreme Court that is closely allied to the country’s military generals.

Pakistan Supreme Court

Last Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that there was merit in the complaint against Haqqani and set up a three-member judicial commission that will report back in four weeks to determine the guilt or innocence of the former Boston University professor and Pakistan’s most prominent diplomat in the last four years.

At the crux of the matter is the authenticity of of the BlackBerry messages that were allegedly exchanged between the two men.

In its decision on Friday, the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered the country’s attorney general to get in touch with Research In Motion in Waterloo, Ontario to secure from RIM the data verifying the validity of the alleged BlackBerry conversation between Haqqani and Ijaz.

In an unprecedented move, the Pakistani Supreme Court stepped beyond its jurisdiction to direct the Canadian High Commissioner in Islamabad, ordering it to facilitate in the securing the data from RIM.

In August 2010, Research In Motion was pressured by the Indian government to allow it access to data exchanged on its BBM messenger service. RIM resisted that pressure and the two parties came to a resolution. However, that involved BlackBerry messages within India, not overseas.

RIM ended up ready to compromise on the privacy of corporate customers to placate Indian regulators. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates too threatened to shut off BlackBerry services unless RIM opened its encrypted client data for the sake of national security.

However, in this case, the alleged exchanges between the Pakistani Ambassador and the American businessman were conducted in the United States, not Pakistan. Unlike the Indian request, this involves the private messages between two individuals and as such RIM is unlikely to share this data — if it exists — with Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

In addition, the Supreme Court ordered former ambassador Husain Haqqani to not leave the country, thus placing him in virtual house arrest. Haqqani, fearing for his life at the hands of the military and jihadis, has now taken refuge inside the Prime Minister’s residence in Islamabad.

Dark day for Pakistan

Haqqani’s counsel in the case, prominent human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir reacted with shock at the Supreme Court decision, labelling it a “dark day” for the country’s judiciary.

Ms. Jahangir a former president of the country’s Supreme Court Bar Association and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, said the decision was evidence Pakistan’s civilian government had for all practical purposes come under the thumb of the army.

Speaking to the media outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Ms. Jehangir said that the court’s judgment in the “memogate scandal” had forced her to wonder whether Pakistan’s judiciary represented the people of Pakistan or the country’s (military) establishment.

Two days later Jahangir announced that in protest at the high-handedness of the Pakistan Supreme Court, she was stepping down as counsel for Husain Haqqani. She alleged the judges of the Supreme Court were acting “under the influence of the [Military] establishment” and not in the cause of justice or due process.

A noose around Haqqani’s neck

She told Karachi’s DAWN Television she was stepping down because the only outcome left was a noose around Haqqani’s neck. She said:

“If nine judges of the Supreme Court can be under their [military] influence, then I am sorry to say I cannot have any expectations from three judges, who are subordinate to the same Supreme Court judges.””Should we close our eyes? Should we allow ourselves to be fooled?… I have told my client [Haqqani] he can appear before the commission if he wishes to — and he will go–but I have no confidence at all in the [judicial] commission.”

Continue reading RIM Asked to Hand Over Memogate Data to Pakistan Court

PAKISTAN: Killers are waiting for me, says Zardari aide

By Dean Nelson

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s embattled former ambassador to Washington, fears he will be murdered if he leaves his sanctuary in the official residence of the country’s prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph yesterday (Tuesday), he said he had been branded a traitor and a “Washington lackey” by “powerful quarters”: a reference to the country’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

He said that he feared he would be murdered like his friend Salman Taseer, the late governor of Punjab, who was shot dead by one of his own security guards last year after being branded a “blasphemer”. Mr Haqqani was forced to resign last year after a Pakistani-American businessman claimed to have been asked by the then ambassador to pass on a memo to the American government calling for help to oust Islamabad’s military leadership. ….

Read more » http://www.theaustralianeye.com/news/killers-are-waiting-for-me-says-zardari-aide-aoi35814190.html

Pakistani Media: Misinformation and manipulation

The purpose of the media is an easy one to understand. The dissemination of factual information on issue relevant to the citizenry. This entails (or should entail) a research and effort to uncover the truth, as well as a responsibility to uphold principles of free speech, adequate voice (as absolute voice and impartiality is impossible) and a separation to some extent from the control of politics. Thus the media has always been imagined as a ‘watchdog’ in its role in politics. This is what it was traditionally meant to be, thus its freedom was protected (like during the American Revolution when printing presses came in vogue) and thus its is critiqued today based on how free it is and how free it lets itself be (like Chomskys critique of the role of the media during the War on Terror). But who watches the watchdog?

Continue reading Pakistani Media: Misinformation and manipulation

ZAB reference case: Verdict passed cannot be revised, says CJ – Just add memogate and it can, over and over again.

ZAB reference case: Verdict passed cannot be revised, says CJ

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, hearing the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) reference case on Tuesday, remarked that any case whose verdict has been passed cannot be revised by the court, reported Express News. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

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‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

By Beena Sarwar

What is ‘Memogate’? The ‘memo’ in question is a letter allegedly written at the behest of Pakistan’s President by the Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, asking USA to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Haqqani denied the allegations, sent in a letter offering to resign in order to facilitate an impartial inquiry, and returned to Pakistan to clear his name. Instead, he found his resignation letter accepted. The Supreme Court barred his exit from Pakistan. He has been forced for his own safety to confine himself first to the Presidency and then to the Prime Minister House. On Dec 30, 2011, The Supreme Court in response to a petition against the ‘memo’ formed a three-member judicial commission to look into the matter that the media has dubbed as ‘memogate’.

Asma Jahangir, counsel for Husain Haqqani and former Supreme Court Bar Association President, has refused to appear before the commission saying that she does not trust the judiciary. She has said that instead of forming a commission to create or produce new evidence the Supreme Court should have looked into the evidence placed before it to decide whether there was a prima facie case and whether the court could proceed to enforce any fundamental rights by making a binding order.

The entire affair appears to be geared towards undermining the democratic political process in Pakistan – specifically at targeting President Asif Ali Zardari, using Husain Haqqani as a vehicle. Asma Jahangir has unequivocally termed the Supreme Court’s judgment as a victory for the military that has run affairs in Pakistan for decades and is obviously still all-powerful behind the scenes.

Asma Jahangir has argued that the Supreme Court had no right to bar Haqqani’s travel abroad. Nor does Supreme Court or the judicial commission set up, have the right to demand Blackberry (RIM) data without due process of law. No server (BU or RIM) should share data with Commission, which is essentially pursuing a political dispute, not criminal charges. The judiciary seems to be ruling on the basis of national security ideology instead of constitution and law.

Continue reading ‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice chairman (VC) Latif Afridi has backed noted lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir’s stance regarding court’s judgement in the controversial memo scandal

PBC backs Asma’s stance on memogate

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice chairman (VC) Latif Afridi has backed Asma Jahangir’s stance regarding court’s judgement in the controversial memo scandal, saying that the superior judiciary cannot play the role of an investigator in any matter. Talking to Daily Times, the PBC vice chairman endorsed Asma Jahangir’s stance that the Supreme Court has wrongly assumed its jurisdiction in the memo scandal. Regarding the memo probe commission, consisting of three high courts chief justices, Afridi said that ordinary litigants would face difficulties in this situation. “The nation is already divided politically, ethnically and economically… it cannot be allowed to further divide on judicial consideration,” he added. The VC hoped the judiciary would not become a source of conflict and things would proceed in accordance with the constitutional division of powers. “Pakistan needs coherence, unification and support of all the federation units and democratic forces, minus those who make hay while the sun shines,” Afirdi said. He urged the SC not to adopt dual standards, and take notice of Mansoor Ijaz’s other statement regarding the ISI director general’s visits to the Arab countries for the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari. The PBC VC urged the court to adopt the policy of judicial restraint, and refrain from entertaining political cases, as the move could make the SC prone to allegations of favouritism. On the other hand, he urged the chief justice of Pakistan to take up the Asghar Khan case. Concerning Pervaiz Musharraf’s return, he said the lawyers would agitate against the former dictator upon his arrival. hasnaat malik

Courtesy: Daily Times