LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday rejec­ted defunct federal finance minister Ishaq Dar’s Senate election nomination papers, noting that he is a court absconder in a corruption and money-laundering reference pending against him in an accountability court.

Separately, the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which had investigated the Panamagate scam appeared before the accountability court the same day and revealed that the sources of the information which the JIT had gathered during the course of investigation were the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and various commercial banks.

The Punjab election commissioner completed the scrutiny of nomination papers for elections to 12 Senate seats from Punjab — seven general seats, two seats each for women and technocrats, and one for religious minorities. Mr Dar is one of four other candidates whose nomination papers were rejected. The others are Hafiz Abdul Karim who is backed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Bilal Butt and Usman Khan and independent candidate Sarfraz Qureshi.

Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed had challenged Mr Dar’s nomination papers.

Ex-JIT chief Wajid Zia testifies against defunct finance minister in accountability court

On the second day of scrutiny at the Punjab Election Commission’s office, Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Advo­cate Anees Hashmi argued that Mr Dar had amassed assets beyond his known sources of income.

He said the defunct minister had also been declared an absconder in a corruption reference by an accountability court of Islamabad.

The Punjab election commissioner requested to see the courts’ decisions in this regard, and after receiving copies of the orders from the petitioner, rejected Mr Dar’s nomination papers.

Mr Rasheed termed this a victory of the truth. With this decision, he said, a new era of politics would begin in Pakistan where all absconders and money launderers would be blocked from entering the Senate. He said the looters of national wealth had no right to decide the fate of the masses. “If Ishaq Dar chooses to appeal, the PTI will continue to chase him and haunt him,” he said.

The commissioner appro­ved the nomination papers of 24 candidates and allowed them to contest the Senate elections scheduled for March 3. The candidates in the run from Punjab are: Andaleeb Abbas, Hina Rab­bani Khar, Saadia Abbasi, Nuzhat Sadiq, Chaudhry Sarwar, Asif Kirmani, Haroon Akhtar, Shahzad Khan, Kamil Ali Agha, Rana Mahmoodul Hassan, Sheza Fatima, Samiullah Chaud­hry, Musadiq Malik, Shakeel Awan, William Michael, Nawazish Ali Pirzada, Naseer Bhutta, Rana Maq­bool, Zubair Gull, Shaheen Khalid Butt, Kamran Michael, Asif Javed, Victor Zaria and Hamid Meraj.

Accountability court proceedings

While recording his statement before the accountability court, FIA’s Addi­tional Director General Wajid Zia, the key prosecution witness of the National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) against Mr Dar in an assets reference, said the Supreme Court had ordered on April 20, 2017, the constitution of a JIT to investigate assets of the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his family members and Mr Dar.

The accountability court is conducting the ex-parte proceedings against Mr Dar because he has been absconding.

Mr Zia introduced himself as the head of the JIT which comprised officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), NAB, SECP and State Bank of Pakistan.

Mr Zia informed the court that as per the wealth statement filed by Mr Dar in 1982-1983, his assets stood at Rs9.1 million at that time, but they increased manifold in just a few years, and in 2008 the defunct finance minister declared that his assets stood at Rs831.6m.

Quoting the declaration of assets Mr Dar had filed with the ECP, Mr Zia said the defunct finance minister had also shown an investment of 5.5m British pounds in the Baraq Holdings, but he (the defunct minister) had failed to justify before the JIT the source of that investment and the JIT concluded that “Mr Dar possessed assets which are disproportionate and beyond his known sources of income”.

The NAB’s Special Prosecutor, Mr Imran Shafique, informed the court that the bureau had also collected data from the ECP, the FBR and some other institutions.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2018