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Ijaz sticks to his coup claim in testimony

ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court appointed commission probing the memo scandal here Wednesday began recording the testimony of Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, the key figure in the cont

Published: 22nd February 2012 06:55 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:01 PM   |  A+A-

ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court appointed commission probing the memo scandal here Wednesday began recording the testimony of Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, the key figure in the controversy, through video-conference from London. Ijaz said that Pakistan's then envoy to the US Husain Haqqani told him the army wanted to topple the government.

Commission secretary Raja Jawad Abbas and counsel of Haqqani and Ijaz, among others, attended the proceedings in London and Pakistan, respectively, Geo TV reported.

Ijaz arrived at the Pakistan High Commission in London to testify before the commission via video link.

A three-member judicial commission headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa is probing the scandal.

Haqqani's counsel Zahid Bukhari requested the bench that he wanted to cross-question Ijaz in person. The commission asked him to submit an application for it.

Secretary Abbas authenticated that the person present in the video conference is Mansoor Ijaz and showed his passport to the commission.

The commission then asked Ijaz if he can speak Urdu and he said no.

Ijaz handed over evidence, including phone bill of his conversations with Haqqani, email addresses and BlackBerry pin number, to the official. Haqqani's lawyer told the commission the phone bill is not original but a copy.

"Code words were decided to be used during my conversation with Haqqani because the matter was sensitive. President of Pakistan was called 'boss' during the conversation while the Americans were referred to as 'Ispahani'," Geo TV quoted Ijaz as telling the commission.

Ijaz said that Haqqani told him the government wanted to form a commission to probe the Abbottabad raid by US commandos May 2, and if army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Kayani was removed from his post, then American opinions will also be considered.

He said Haqqani also told him that President Asif Ali Zardari wanted to form a new security team.

Ijaz said his contacts with Haqqani first started May 3 last year.

He added that Haqqani also spoke of cooperation in the probe regarding Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people.

The Pakistani-American businessman also said that Haqqani wanted the US to send a message to Kayani.

"Haqqani wanted to send the message through then US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen but I did not know him," Ijaz said.

Haqqani was nervous after the message was sent to Admiral Mullen, the businessman said.

Ijaz said that Haqqani told him the army was putting pressure on Zardari and that the army wanted to topple the government.

The commission consented to video-conferencing after Ijaz refused to come to Pakistan fearing for his life.

Ijaz claimed to have last year delivered a secret memo to Admiral Mike Mullen at the behest of Haqqani and the Pakistani government.

The memo said that Zardari feared a military coup after Osama bin Laden was killed May 2 last year at his hideout in Abbottabad by US commandos. The exposure of the memo triggered a scandal that generated much heat in Pakistan.

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