Pakistan’s Supreme Court has approved an investigation into a controversial memo seeking Washington’s support to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after the U.S raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The court on Friday set up a three-member judicial commission to probe the memo and collect evidence within and outside Pakistan in connection with the scandal.
The Supreme Court has ordered the high-powered judicial commission to conclude its investigation within four weeks.
The commission has been asked to ascertain the origin, authenticity and purpose of the unsigned memo delivered in May to Admiral Mike Mullen, then the top U.S military official.
The government is opposed to the parallel judicial probe, insisting that a parliamentary committee on national security is already investigating the memo.
The secret document was allegedly crafted by former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani with the support of the civilian leadership, to avert a feared military coup in the aftermath of the American raid on bin Laden.
A prominent Pakistan lawyer, Asama Jehangir, representing Haqqani in the case, criticized Friday’s court ruling as disappointing and said it would undermine efforts aimed at promoting democracy in the country.
“I feel that it is a big setback to the democratic transition and I think all democratic minded people will suffer in the long term," said Jehangir.
Ms. Jehangir says following the Supreme Court ruling, the civilian government has become subservient to the military in Pakistan. However, the top prosecutor general Anwar-ul Haq, dismissed the criticism.
“I don’t see any political impact of it," said ul-Haq. "The court has expressed that since the people [of Pakistan] want to know and the court [also] wants to know as to what this is all about because everybody is groping in the dark.”
Haqqani was forced to resign as ambassador in the wake of the memo scandal though he denies the charges as does the government.
But army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, while denying he ever planned to overthrow the civilian government, insists the memo is a reality and needs to be investigated. He described the document as an unsuccessful attempt to undermine Pakistan’s national security.
A British news paper, The Financial Times disclosed the existence and details of the secret document in early October. The author of the newspaper report, Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, accused Haqqani of requesting he deliver the memo to Admiral Mullen.
The American national, one of the respondents in the court case, stands by his claims and has sent details of his communication with the former Pakistani envoy before and after the memo was delivered.