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Memogate
Probe panel sets Feb 9 deadline for Mansoor Ijaz

Islamabad, January 24
The Pakistani judicial panel probing the memo scandal today gave the controversial American businessman Mansoor Ijaz a final opportunity to depose before it on February 9 after the star witness failed to appear for the second time citing security concerns.

The three-judge commission appointed by the Supreme Court issued the direction after Interior Minister Rehman Malik appeared before the commission this afternoon and gave an assurance that full security would be provided to the businessman, the central figurer in the memo scandal that sparked a political crisis in the country.

In messages sent through this lawyer Akram Sheikh, the Pakistani American cited security concerns as his reason for not coming to Pakistan.

After Malik's assurance, the panel gave Sheikh 30 minutes to consult Ijaz and ascertain whether he would come to Pakistan. Sheikh subsequently informed the panel that Ijaz had said he would not come to the country due to security concerns.

Sheikh said Ijaz had "no confidence" in Malik and allegedly feared that he would be killed at the Interior Minister's hands.

Ijaz has blamed the Pakistani government of orchestrating a memo, which he delivered to the US last year, seeking American help to stave off a possible military coup following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May last year.

Reacting to Sheikh's claims, Balochistan HC Chief Justice Qazi Faez Eesa, the head of the commission, said if Ijaz was not in the mood to come to Pakistan, the panel too would not "run after him". PTI

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