ISLAMABAD: The stalled trial of former finance minister Ishaq Dar resumed on Thursday. The accountability court in which the case is being heard directed the prosecution to produce more witnesses against Mr Dar.
Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir is conducting ex-parte proceedings against the former minister due to his absence. However, as per his counsel, Mr Dar is abroad for cardiac treatment. Judge Bashir asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor, Imran Shafique, to also submit a reply on Dar’s petition raising objections over earlier court orders freezing his assets on NAB’s request.
During Thursday’s hearing, the NAB prosecutor informed the court that the Islamabad High Court has dismissed Dar’s petition challenging several orders of an accountability court related to the issuance of bailable and non-bailable warrants of arrest as well as proclamation. The court directed him to produce more witnesses at the next hearing.
Last month, Judge Bashir had issued notice to the NAB investigation officer after Dar had through his counsel Qausain Faisal Mufti raised objections over the court orders for freezing his assets on NAB request, especially the attaching of a charity account.
The counsel said the assets of Hajveri Trust and Hajveri Foundation cannot be frozen without the issuance of a notice to them as they are separate entities and that the freezing process is illegal. He requested the court to un-freeze the assets.
The court had confirmed the freezing of Dar’s assets, properties, bank accounts and investments in Pakistan and abroad except an account with the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue.
Mr Shafique told the court that section 12 of the National Accountability Ordinance enables the NAB chairman to pass an order to freeze the assets as and when required. He requested the court to pass an order for confirming the freezing of Dar’s accounts. Judge Bashir approved NAB’s request and adjourned further proceeding till Jan 24.
The IHC had on Dec 20, 2017 restrained the accountability court from proceeding further against Dar till Jan 17, observing that several questions of law related to ex-parte proceedings against the former finance minister needed to be answered.
However, the court on Jan 17 allowed the accountability court to resume proceedings after Mr Shafique filed a detailed reply to Dar’s petition. Subsequently, IHC also lifted its stay order on the trial court’s proceedings.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2018