ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Islamabad on Friday suspended the permanent arrest warrant of former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar till October 7 in a case related to charges he amassed wealth beyond his known sources of income, with his lawyer saying the court had barred the politician from being arrested when he arrived in Pakistan from the UK within 15 days.
A Pakistani anti-corruption court declared Dar an absconder after the veteran politician, who is a close aide to three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, failed to turn up for several court hearings in 2017. Dar, who has pleaded not guilty, has said he is receiving medical treatment in London and is unable to return.
Through his lawyer Qazi Misbah, Dar filed an application before the accountability court to quash his arrest warrant on Thursday. The case was heard by Judge Mohammad Basheer of the accountability court.
“The court has ordered NAB [National Accountability Authority] authorities to not arrest Dar on his arrival in Pakistan by suspending his arrest warrant till October 7,” Misbah told Arab News.
“We have asked the court that he intends to join proceedings which was accepted by the court. He will come to Pakistan within 15 days and join the proceedings,” the lawyer added.
Misbah said he hoped the arrest warrant would be permanently revoked after Dar returned.
“We are hopeful that it will be permanently revoked as it was also stated by the honorable judge that he will decide on it after Dar’s physical appearance before court,” Misbah said, adding that the case would hopefully be quashed as NAB could not prove Dar had amassed assets beyond means.
The charges against Dar followed an investigation into the finances of former PM Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in July 2017 after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not declaring a small salary from his son’s off-shore company.
The ex-finance minister is one of Sharif’s closest political allies and Dar’s son has married Sharif’s daughter. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
During his stint as finance minister from 2013-2017, Dar was initially lauded for steering Pakistan out of a balance of payments crisis in 2013 and returning the nuclear-armed country toward a higher growth trajectory.
But in the year before he stepped down as finance minister after Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified him from office, Dar faced widespread criticism for his refusal to allow the rupee to weaken to ease macroeconomic pressures. He was also accused of eroding the central bank’s independence.