After weeks of delay, Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz on Wednesday deposed via video link before a judicial commission probing the memo scandal and provided details of his contacts with Pakistani leaders and ISI officials.
Mr. Ijaz came to the Pakistan High Commission in London to record his statement through video conferencing while the three-judge commission appointed by the Supreme Court conducted the proceedings from Islamabad.
Mr. Ijaz, the main accuser in the memo scandal, had earlier refused to travel to Pakistan to record his testimony citing security concerns.
The businessman read out a statement that he had submitted earlier to the Supreme Court but did not provide any new evidence to back up his claims about the alleged memo, TV news channels here reported.
Recounting his contacts with Pakistani leaders, Mr. Ijaz said he had met then ISI chief Gen Ehsan-ul-Haq in Brussels in 2003.
He said he had met former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in London in 2005 and that he had last met President Asif Ali Zardari in 2009.
Mr. Ijaz said he met current ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha in a London hotel last year. He also acknowledged that he currently had few contacts with Pakistani leaders.
He claimed his contacts with Pakistan’s former envoy to the US Husain Haqqani, for the alleged memo, began on May 3 last year — a day after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. He claimed Mr. Haqqani had told him that the military was pressuring Mr. Zardari and the government.
In Islamabad, Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq told the commission it would be necessary to conduct forensic tests on the BlackBerry messages that Mr. Ijaz had produced to support his claims.
Mr. Haq said the commission’s secretary, who was in London for the video-conferencing, was not an expert on electronic devices and could not verify the authenticity of the BlackBerry messages.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Ijaz drove to the Pakistan High Commission in a cab.
He told reporters before going inside that he would tell the truth and expose the reality about the memo.
After taking a vow to tell the truth, Mr. Ijaz informed the commission in response to a question that he cannot speak Urdu.
A team of lawyers representing PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who had petitioned the court over the memo, is in London to cross-examine Mr. Ijaz. Mr. Haqqani’s lawyer could not travel to Britain as he was issued a visa late on Tuesday. Reports said Mr. Ijaz’s deposition was expected to continue on Thursday.
Two large plasma screens were installed in a room at the Islamabad High Court complex for the proceedings of the judicial commission.
Mr. Ijaz submitted some evidence to the secretary of the commission, who sealed the material.
Mr. Haqqani was forced to resign as Pakistan’s envoy to the US after Mr. Ijaz made public the alleged memo in October last year. Mr. Ijaz claimed he had drafted and delivered the memo to the former US military chief, seeking help to avert a possible military coup, on Mr. Haqqani’s instructions. The government and Mr. Haqqani have dismissed Mr. Ijaz’s claims. The memo triggered a tense standoff between the civilian government and the powerful military.