Former finance minister Ishaq Dar has accused the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of intentionally nominating him in “manipulated” cases and “making mountains out of molehills”, on Friday.
An accountability court indicted Dar in September in a reference pertaining to his owning “assets beyond his known sources of income”. The reference was filed on the directions of the Supreme Court. Dar has pleaded not guilty.
Dar, who is currently in London due to his health issues, hinted that some forces are out to get him, saying: “This [the reference] has been manipulated and maneuvered in order to target me. One day the people of Pakistan will know the full truth about [this] charade.”
The PML-N politician pointed to the expansion of the Panama probe’s mandate beyond the four Sharif family-owned Avenfield apartments, saying, “It started spreading from one place to another and whole new issues were created.”
“[I am] saddened at how things have unfolded, how mountains have been made out of molehills and how Pakistan has been damaged over political games.”
Dar, who was declared an absconder in absentia by the NAB for not returning to Pakistan to stand trial, vehemently defended himself, adding: “I challenge anyone to prove a penny’s worth of irregularity or corruption during the four tenures that I was privileged to serve in various PML-N governments. I am ready to face any punishment if it’s proven that I was ever involved in corruption, favouritism for anyone, nepotism or other undue favours.”
He blamed Pakistan’s political upheaval of 2017 for the frail nature of the economy, noting: “We Pakistanis are sometimes Pakistan’s worst enemies and don’t want stability and progress of the country through infighting and short-sighted policies.” Dar also urged his political rivals to reconcile their differences with him for the sake of the country.
“This country can move forward when all institutions work together and move forward,” he said. “If we pull each other’s legs, then it will be Pakistan that will be harmed. And it’s obvious how Pakistan has been damaged in the last four months.”
Meanwhile, he maintained that he will return to Pakistan to face NAB’s charges but only when his health issues are resolved.
“I have issues with one of the coronary vessels [and have also been ] experiencing progressive neck pain,” he said. “I am keen to return to Pakistan as soon as I can and am permitted by the doctors to undertake air-travel.”
However, NAB Judge Mohammad Bashir, in his detailed December 12 judgment, had observed that Dar does not seem to have a serious heart condition.
According to the judge’s detailed order, the medical reports submitted before the court by Dar’s lawyer do not seem to indicate that Dar is suffering from a serious cardiac ailment or that he is unfit to travel to Pakistan to appear before the courts.