The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to respond to a questionnaire prepared by the United Kingdom's Home Office regarding the return of former minister Ishaq Dar to the country.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a case related to Dar's non-appearance before the apex court in a corruption case pertaining to owning assets approximately valued at Rs831.7 million, disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Dar was declared an absconder by the court last year when he failed to appear since he was in London, allegedly undergoing medical treatment. His absence was first attributed to ill health on Oct 30, 2017.
The additional attorney general told the bench today that the UK Home Office had sent some questions regarding Dar's return to the country, and these questions had been forwarded to NAB.
"They will submit their response to the UK Home Office," the additional attorney general added.
The CJP observed that Dar "can no longer use his illness as an excuse [to stay abroad]".
"He would say that when justice will prevail, only then will he return to the country," the top judge added.
The court ordered NAB to respond to the Home Office's questionnaire and to submit a report on the matter within a month.
The case was subsequently adjourned for a month.
'Assets beyond known income'
The noose began to tighten around the former finance minister after NAB decided to reopen the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference against him last year.
The Hudaibya reference will be the second ‘mega-corruption’ case against Dar being investigated by NAB, after the reference filed against him in the wake of the Panamagate judgement.
The reopening of the case was recommended by the joint investigation team formed by the apex court to probe the Panama Papers allegations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
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 has alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependents 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”.