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Memogate row: Asma Jahangir quits as counsel for Haqqani


Islamabad, Jan 1: Leading Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir today quit as counsel for former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani, in legal proceedings related to the memo scandal, saying she had "no confidence" in the commission formed by the Supreme Court to probe the matter.

Jahangir, one of Pakistan's leading rights activist, said she had asked Haqqani to engage another lawyer to represent him in the apex court and the court-appointed commission that has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the alleged memo that sought US help to prevent a feared military coup in Pakistan in May.

A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry last week formed a commission comprising the Chief Justices of the High Courts of Islamabad, Balochistan and Sindh to conduct a probe into the memo issue in four weeks.

Jahangir alleged the judges of the Supreme Court were acting "under the influence of the (security) establishment".

She said: "And if nine judges of the Supreme Court can be (under their influence), then I am sorry to say I cannot have any expectations from High Court judges, who are under (the apex court judges)."

"Should we close our eyes? Should we allow ourselves to be fooled?... I have told my client he can appear before the commission if he wants to, and he will go. I have no confidence at all (in the commission)," Jahangir told Dawn News channel. "This is the court's order and we have to follow it but I told (Haqqani) to engage some other lawyer," she said.

Jahangir further said that Haqqani feared the powerful spy agencies might force him into giving a statement.

This fear was the reason behind his stay at the Prime Minister's House, she said.

The Supreme Court's decision on several petitions seeking a probe into the Memogate scandal was a "victory" for the security establishment, she said.

The law is being used to transform the country into a "security state", she contended.

Haqqani was forced to resign after Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public the alleged memo in November.

The Supreme Court's decision to form the commission came as a blow to the beleaguered Pakistan People’s Party-led government, which had challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the petitions seeking a probe into the scandal.

The government had contended that the probe into the memo should be left to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.

However, the chiefs of the army and the ISI spy agency had urged the court to order an independent inquiry, saying the memo had affected national security.


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