At issue is why Mr. Hassan was needed to go to Geneva to take possession of the documents (there are of course three Pakistani missions within Switzerland itself and it bears repeating that Mr. Hassan was himself earlier accused of allegedly facilitating the smuggling of antiques from Pakistan for Mr. Zardari's Rockwood Mansion in Surrey, a property he continued to deny was his but which he has now admitted to), why - if the documents needed to be handed over for safe-keeping purposes by the Pakistan government - was the whole operation conducted in such a cloak and dagger manner, and what this means for the security of the legal documents should the NRO be overturned by the Supreme Court and the cases re-opened.
It is patently obvious that Geo had been tipped off about this trip and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who could be behind such a tip off. Nevertheless, we are better off for having this record, flawed as it may be on the details, on tape. Here is the full report as broadcast initially on Geo News:
Now, however, Mr. Wajid Shamsul Hassan has come out with a lengthy explanation about the incident. You can read the entire text issued by the High Commission laying out his stand here in The News (apparently it goes on even more, so we have been treated only to the first part today).
I do not want to comment too much on the explanation, but thought one should highlight a few portions of the explanation. Mr. Hassan says:
“I did accompany the NAB Prosecutor General Dr Danishwar Malik to Geneva on the instructions of Pakistan Foreign Office to be present with him when he takes over 12 boxes from the NAB’s lawyer, a private company, in Geneva. The chairman NAB was in the know that I was assigned officially to go to Geneva.
“I just acted as a witness to the handing over of the boxes to Dr Danishwar Malik at the office of the Swiss lawyer and not Swiss court or the Swiss Prosecutor General as reported in the newspapers of your group and Geo TV. The boxes were handed over by Dr Danishwar in my presence to Aftab A Khokhar, Deputy Permanent Representative, for transportation to the office of Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, for putting them in sealed diplomatic bags to be sent to Pakistan High Commission, London.
“I regret to state that your correspondents have tried to scandalise the issue for reasons best known to them by describing an entirely legal transfer as a cloak-n-dagger mystery. It seemed to be part of an orchestrated smear campaign carried on by those in the media that are being accused of pursuing an agenda to destabilise the democratic government. I find it grossly unethical, unprofessional and immoral that without making inquiries from the Pakistan Foreign Office certain scandalous insinuations were targeted at me.
“In order to create an impression that I was allegedly involved in a clandestine mysterious mission, the perpetrators of falsehood did not care to check about authorisation of my visit with the Pakistan Foreign Office. Rather, they even wrongly attributed to NAB chairman that he had not authorised my visit. The NAB chairman had nothing to do with the authorisation of my visit but he was in full knowledge of it through the Pakistan Foreign Office that instructed me to go to Geneva.
“The reason why I was designated to accompany NAB Prosecutor General Dr Danishwar Malik was that Pakistan High Commission in London, ever since political vendetta was launched against martyred Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari starting November 1996 by revengeful Farooq Leghari, followed more venomously by National Accountability Cell under Senator Saifur Rehman, hatchet man of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and then by General Pervez Musharraf’s NAB, had become the focal point for NAB’s foreign operations."
"Commenting further on the previous stories, the high commissioner said when two hoodlum looking individuals confronted him in a Geneva street, they did not identity themselves. Rather, unlike civilised journalists, they were rough and confrontationist in their approach."
Now look at that video report again, particularly Mr. Hassan's responses to the Geo reporter when asked what was going on, the evasiveness of all officials and the Geo logo on the mike and make up your own mind whether what Mr. Hassan says stands up to scrutiny.