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The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that former finance minister Ishaq Dar is abroad under "self-imposed exile".

The remark was made in a reply submitted to the court by the bureau in response to Dar's petition against being labelled a proclaimed absconder and having his assets frozen.

"An accused cannot file a petition in court through an attorney," NAB said in the reply, adding that the accountability court deemed Dar an absconder under the law.

A proclaimed absconder needs to be present in court when asking for relief, the NAB contended.

The bureau also told the court that Dar's assets were frozen after the required criteria was fulfilled.

NAB subsequently asked the IHC to let it continue its proceedings against Dar, adding that the former finance minister cannot be given treatment any other citizen is denied.

NAB also said that Dar's medical reports do not indicate that he has any ailment of the heart and that he is under "self-imposed exile."

The court will rule on Dar's appeal on January 17.

Assets beyond means

On July 28, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered NAB to file three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and one against Dar, on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

In its reference against the finance minister, NAB alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependants of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx)”.

The reference alleged that the assets were "disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for".

In October 2017, after attending the 16th Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Ministerial Conference in Dushanbe, Dar had travelled to Jeddah, where he allegedly fell ill in and subsequently had to go to London for medical treatment.

In November 2017, the government withdrew the portfolio of finance minister of Dar. The same month, Dar was declared a proclaimed offender by an accountability court.

However, the former finance minister may have heaved a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court dismissed NAB's application for the reopening the Hudaibya Paper Mills reference.