Islamabad, Jan 19 : Hours after the media reported that businessman Mansoor Ijaz had been issued a visa to come to Pakistan to testify before a commission probing the memo scandal, Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Wednesday said he had not even applied for a visa.
“Ijaz has not yet applied for a visa.However, Pakistani embassies have been directed to issue a visa to Ijaz immediately after he applies for it,” Malik told reporters outside parliament this evening. “News reports regarding the issuance of a visa to Ijaz are baseless,” he said.
Ijaz should come to Pakistan so that “rumours could come to an end,” he added.
Ijaz should apply for a visa from Washington, where he reportedly lives, as according to rules, a visa application should be made at the place where one resides, Malik said. Malik said the Prime Minister will appear in the Supreme Court tomorrow and his detractors will face disappointment.
Earlier in the day, TV news channels reported that Ijaz, who made public the mysterious memo that triggered a row between Pakistan's civilian government and the military, has been issued a visa so that he could travel to Islamabad to testify before the Supreme Court-appointed judicial commission on January 24.
Ijaz was issued a visa by the Pakistani Embassy at Berne in Switzerland and will travel to Pakistan on January 24 to appear before the panel, the news channels reported. Reports said Ijaz would fly from London to Chaklala military airbase in Rawalpindi in a special aircraft on January 24.
The Pakistani-American businessman failed to make a scheduled appearance before the commission on Monday. Ijaz's lawyer Akram Sheikh had then claimed he had deferred his travel plans due to security concerns. The commission subsequently directed him to appear before it on January 24.
Ijaz created a storm in Pakistan's political and diplomatic circles after he claimed in October last year that he drafted and delivered a memo on the instructions of former Pakistani envoy to the US Husain Haqqani to then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen.
The alleged memo sought US help to stave off a feared coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden by American special forces in May last year.
Acting on a batch of petitions, including one from main opposition PML-n chief Nawaz Sharif, the apex court ordered a three-judge commission to investigate the memo scandal.
Ijaz has been described as the star witness for the commission but doubts and confusion have surrounded his plans to travel to Pakistan.
After he claimed that he and his family had received threats, the commission ordered that police and army soldiers should be deployed to guard him when he arrived in Islamabad.