The judicial commission which the Supreme Court tasked to investigate the memogate affair, has decided to record the evidence of Mansoor Ijaz by a video link from the London Embassy, directing the registrar of the Islamabad High Court, who has been acting as the Commission’s secretary, to go to London and bring back the evidence. Mr Ijaz’s evidence was vital for the commission, in view of his prior admissions, yet at the same time he also refused to come to Pakistan because of threats to his life. In this age of modern means of communication, it was perhaps not possible to prevent the deposition, but the attempt was made. The only possible beneficiary was the President, who would be seriously embarrassed if, as Mr Ijaz has claimed in his article in a British newspaper that started the whole affair, he indeed initiated the memo. That the contents of the memo are damaging enough is beyond doubt. Mr Ijaz’s statement has been confirmed that the memo was, indeed, delivered to Admiral Mike Mullen, who was at that time Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. The commission’s investigation would show who, if anyone, was behind Mr Ijaz at that time.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, with which the President would feel safer, because it has a built-in PPP majority, tried to prevent Mr Ijaz from appearing before the Supreme Court by deciding that it was the only place Mr Ijaz would record evidence, and he would not be allowed to record his evidence elsewhere. Though the committee had summoned Mr Ijaz through embassies, it had received no reply. It should be noted that Mr Ijaz has felt it necessary to be represented by a lawyer before the judicial commission, but has felt no such need to be represented before the committee. It almost seems as if Mr Ijaz, like most Pakistanis, sees the commission as impartial and engaged in a genuine search for the truth, and the committee as a charade which will only serve to ensure that its investigation will be a whitewash of the President. The issuing of a summons has been made necessary for the committee partly because of the pressure created on it by the commission, but mainly by the fact that there cannot be even a whitewash of the President without a deposition from Mr Ijaz.
However, it should be remembered that the nation does not want the President implicated; it only wants the mystery solved, the questions answered. The government must stop behaving as if the President has something to hide, and buckle down to facilitating the commission in its work, and arrange for the testimony by video link. The fact that the testimony is in the hands of the government should not provide yet another barrier behind which the President is to be hidden.