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Former Pak envoy allowed to travel abroad

world Updated: Feb 01, 2012 01:34 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
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There is talk of a compromise between Pakistan’s political and military leadership. As a result of which the prime accused in the Memogate affair, former Pakistan ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, was allowed to leave the country on Tuesday morning. Under heavy security, Haqqani boarded a flight to the UAE from where he is expected to leave for the US, where his family resides.

The Supreme Court conditionally lifted a ban on Haqqani’s travel after an application by his counsel, Asma Jahangir, requested that her client be allowed to join his family abroad. The application further stated that the former ambassador had fully cooperated with the commission and had also undertook to return to Pakistan on four days’ notice to join the proceedings, if and when required to do so by the commission.

However, analysts say that the refusal of the star witness in the case, Mansoor Ijaz, to come to Pakistan to record his statement resulted in a turn of events. “The political government managed to scare Mansoor Ijaz through statements and innuendoes and he backed out,” said Ijaz’s lawyer Akram Shaikh.

Ijaz’s lawyer then said that his client had requested military protection as well as an assurance that his movement would not be restricted, he would not be involved in any legal case and that he would not be placed on the country’s Exit Control List. However, these conditions were shot down by the prime minister who commented that Ijaz was “not a viceroy” that he was making such demands.

Analysts feel that with both the star witnesses and the prime accused not in the country, the case may have lost its steam. Already, the main petitioner, opposition leader Mian Nawaz Sharif, who asked the Supreme Court to look into the matter, has distanced himself from the proceedings. Sharif’s aides say that he distanced himself after he felt that the case had been hijacked by others who wanted to use it to derail democracy in the country.

“We can be confident that some sort of understanding has come into place,” commented Talat Masood, a security analyst. Masood said that the reluctance of the court to record Ijaz’s statement abroad and the decision to allow Haqqani to leave the country “can only have taken place if the government and the army had come to some understanding.” However, officials deny any such deal.

Last week, the military chiefs met President Zardari and later also had a meeting with prime minister Gilani.

On Monday, Gilani hinted on early elections following June’s budget. It is expected that Pakistan will go in to general elections in mid-2012, six months ahead of the scheduled timeframe.