Pakistan lawmaker: Court bars ex-envoy from travel

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Pakistani former prime minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif leaves the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan on Thursday, Dec 1, 2011. Sharif filed a petition for a thorough investigation in the memo-gate scandal. A Pakistani parliamentarian says the Supreme Court has barred the country's former envoy to the U.S. from leaving, while a commission investigates his role in a memo scandal that led to his resignation. The court on Thursday ordered former Ambassador Husain Haqqani to remain in the country, and appointed a special commissioner to probe the incident. Haqqani has been accused of crafting a memo asking the U.S. for help in reining in Pakistan's military, following the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday barred Pakistan's former envoy to the U.S. from leaving the country while a commission investigates his role in a memo scandal that led to his resignation, a Pakistani lawmaker said.

The controversy centers around a memo that was sent in May to the top U.S. military officer at the time, asking him for help in preventing a possible army coup in Pakistan following the American raid in May that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town.

Mansoor Ijaz, a U.S. businessman of Pakistani origin, accused Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to the U.S., of being behind the memo — an allegation the former envoy denied.

The memo, which has been published by the media, caused an uproar in Pakistan because it offered to replace the country's national security leadership with people favorable to Washington in exchange for U.S. help. The document also exacerbated tension between Pakistan's civilian government and its powerful army, which has ruled the country for much of its history.

The Supreme Court appointed a former senior government investigator, Tariq Khosa, to head a commission to probe the scandal, said Khwaja Asif, a Pakistani lawmaker and one of nine opposition politicians who petitioned the court asking for an investigation.

The court ordered Haqqani to stay in the country until the 3-week probe is complete, Asif said.

Critics of the ruling Pakistan People's Party have used the scandal to pressure President Asif Ali Zardari.

The U.S. businessman Ijaz has claimed that the memo was sent with Zardari's approval — an allegation that has been denied by the president.

Haqqani said he has not been officially notified of the court's order, but that he did not intend to travel.

"I resigned to pave the way for a transparent inquiry," Haqqani told The Associated Press. "I would not have come back to the country if I intended to leave."


Associated Press writer Chris Brummitt contributed to this report from Islamabad.