Islamabad accountability court cancels Ishaq Dar’s arrest warrant

Published October 7, 2022
<p>In this file photo, PML-N leader and former finance minister Ishaq Dar speaks to the media. — AFP</p>

In this file photo, PML-N leader and former finance minister Ishaq Dar speaks to the media. — AFP

An Islamabad court on Friday cancelled the arrest warrant issued for Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in an assets-beyond-means case.

The court had issued a perpetual warrant for his arrest in May this year.

Dar, who has been accused of accumulating assets beyond his known sources of income, was declared an absconder in the case in 2017 after he failed to join the corruption trial.

The court, however, reversed its order last month when Dar appeared before the court and gave an undertaking to face trial. The court had also suspended the arrest warrant and given dar a fortnight to surrender to the law.

During today’s hearing, the court cancelled the arrest warrant and directed the minister to submit surety bonds worth Rs1 million.

Moreover, it issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which had filed the reference against Dar, on two applications moved by the finance minister.

In his applications, Dar sought a permanent exemption from attending hearings and challenged the confiscation of his property. The court directed the NAB to submit replies on the applications by October 12.

During the hearing, the court enquired whether the bureau itself had issued any warrants for Dar’s arrest. Investigating officer Nadir Abbas told the court that a warrant had been issued but it was later suspended.

Dar’s counsel Qazi Misbah argued that the court had issued a warrant only for the minister’s appearance.

At that, the court asked about the accountability bureau’s stance now. “Should the warrants be cancelled or not?”

In response, the NAB prosecutor gave his assent for the warrant’s cancellation. “The warrant issued by the court was only for Dar’s appearance,” he concurred.

Moreover, Misbah informed the court that Dar had to go abroad to attend a conference while pleading his case for the cancellation of the warrant.

Accountability court Judge Muhammad Bashir also noted that an interim reference had also been filed under which an indictment had to be issued again.

Dar, who was present during today’s proceedings, responded to the observation by saying: “We will present arguments on this. There are no grounds for the interim reference.”

The court then cancelled Dar’s warrant and sought the NAB’s replies on his two applications filed today by the next hearing on October 12.

The reference

On July 28, 2017, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered the NAB to file three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and one against Dar, on petitions filed by PTI chairperson Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

In its reference against Dar, NAB had 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”.

Subsequently, the then-government had withdrawn the portfolio of finance minister from Dar, who was reappointed to the post last month.

On November 14, 2017, the court had issued Dar’s non-bailable arrest warrants and on December 11, the court had declared Dar an absconder after he repeatedly failed to join the trial.

In May this year, the court had issued a perpetual arrest warrant for Dar, which it suspended last month after his counsel filed a plea challenging it on his behalf.

The development had come just three days ahead of his return to Pakistan after five years of self-exile in the United Kingdom.

On September 28, the court had reversed its order of declaring Dar an absconder after the newly inducted finance minister appeared before it and gave an undertaking to face the trial in the case.

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