The accountability court hearing the corruption reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar issued bailable warrants for the minister on Monday after the accused did not appear in court. Dar has been ordered to appear in court at the next hearing on Nov 2.
The minister is accused by the National Accountability Bureau of possessing assets which are disproportionate to his declared sources of income.
As the hearing went under way, Dar’s counsel Khawaja Harris pleaded before Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir to grant his client exemption from appearance as he is in London for medical tests. The counsel also submitted Dar’ medical report and assured he would appear in court on Thursday.
The judge then reserved his decision on the plea after the NAB opposed the request and sought warrants for the finance minister’s production.
The NAB prosecutor argued that the accused should have sought the court’s permission before leaving the country.
Announcing the decision, the accountability court dismissed Dar’s exemption plea and issued bailable warrants for his arrest. The court also issued a notice to Dar’s guarantor — who has submitted the surety bond — and ordered Dar to appear in court on Nov 2.
The finance minister, a close associate of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, left for a conference in Tajikistan on Friday and reportedly then travelled to Jeddah where he fell ill. From there he went to London where his medical tests were to be performed on Monday.
Dar has appeared before the court seven times since the trial began, missing only the first hearing on September 20. At the last hearing on October 23, the court had continued with recording statements of NAB’s witnesses — Abdul Rehman Gondal of Allied Bank and Masoodul Ghani of Habib Bank Limited.
Moreover, the court will hear on Thursday Dar’s comments regarding the notices issued to him at the last hearing on October 23 regarding NAB’s plea to have his assets frozen until the case is decided.
The NAB had submitted a plea in court seeking its endorsement of the bureau’s October 18 order directing the freezing of Dar and his family’s assets. Dar’s counsel is expected to plead the court to dismiss NAB’s request.
NAB has been seeking the endorsement of the court as the NAB chairman’s order stated: “This order shall remain in force for a period not exceeding 15 days and it shall be filed in the court of learned judge, Accountability Court No. 1, Islamabad for its confirmation as required under 1st proviso to Section 12(C) of NAO, 1999”.
NAB is seeking the freezing of Dar’s six bank, properties and vehicles in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates as well as investments in both countries.
NAB also listed properties and assets of Dar as follows: A house in Gulberg, Lahore, a two-kanal plot in Parliamentarians Enclave, Islamabad, a two-kanal plot with Ayaz Builders, a plot in Senate Cooperative Housing Society, Islamabad, a two kanal and 19 marla plot in the name of Mrs Tabassum Dar, three plots in Alflah Housing Society, Lahore owned by Dar, his wife and son Ali Mustafa Dar and six acres in Mouza Milot owned by him and his wife.
In the list of foreign properties and assets, the NAB mentioned a flat in Emirates Hills Dubai, owned by Dar, an apartment in Palm Jumairah Dubai, a 2003 Bentley Arnage car, a 2006 Mercedez, two sets of shares/investment in Baraq Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and shares/investments in Al-Nahayan owned by Ishaq Dar.
The list of cars in Pakistan include a 2004 Land Cruiser owned by Mrs Dar, a 1999 Land Cruiser, a 2004 Toyota Corolla, a 1998 Mercedez Benz, a 2008 Mercedez and a 2014 Land Cruiser. Moreover, Dar and his wife have made an investment of Rs3,453,060 in Hajveri Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and Rs2,700 shares by in Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd.
NAB, in its application, informed the court of serious apprehensions that the accused, his dependents/benamidars might dispose of, alienate, sell, create charge or change the status of the properties/investments.