News Analysis |
An accountability court on Tuesday [Today] ordered the auction of former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s assets and seizure of his bank accounts in Pakistan. The Judge Mohammad Bashir of accountability court accepted the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) plea to auction Dar’s assets in the country. The court has directed Punjab’s provincial government to take responsibility for the auction of Dar’s assets.
While empowering the Punjab government, the court left it to the Buzdar led government to decide whether to auction off or keep in possession the Dar’s movable and immovable assets. On Monday, NAB’s prosecutor Imran Shafique had requested the special court to issue an order regarding Dar’s assets in Islamabad and Lahore which are beyond the court’s jurisdiction.
It is quite obvious from a number of videos circulating on social media showing healthy-looking Dar walking on the streets of London.
Judge Bashir’s court had reserved the verdict after hearing the final arguments from NAB’s in a plea against Dar—who is an absconder in the corruption reference. Earlier, NAB had submitted the details of Dar’s assets and requested for the auction of movable and immovable properties of the former minister in assets beyond income reference.
NAB’s prosecutor argued that since Dar had not raised reservation within the given time, the honorable court could order the sale of the Dar’s assets. Moreover, Dar would have six months to approach the court after the sale of his assets.
The properties in line for auction includes a two-Kanal plot in Parliamentarians Enclave, one plot in the Senate Cooperative Housing Society, six acres of land in Islamabad, another plot of two kanals and nine marlas in Islamabad. Furthermore, a house in Lahore, three plots in Al-Falah Housing Society, and six vehicles-three Land Cruisers, two Mercedes and a Toyota Corolla will also be available for auction to Punjab government.
Nawaz’s most trusted crony on the run
NAB’s prosecutor had accused Dar of fleeing the country in a bid to save himself from accountability. He alleged that in spite of the repeated requests from the court, the senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) failed to return to Pakistan. He purposefully ignored the multiple summonses and arrest warrants and was declared the proclaimed offender.
JIT had presented the proofs of a discrepancy between his declared sources of income and his actual wealth.
Dar, who is dubbed as the “biggest criminals of the country” by Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, was allowed to leave the country on a former premier Nawaz Sharif’s plane for the urgent medical treatment in London. Fearing the arrest, Dar landed in the London hospital—where he underwent the cardiac treatment after complaining of chest pains.
NAB claims that the accused has faked his ailment. It is quite obvious from a number of videos circulating on social media showing healthy-looking Dar walking on the streets of London.
July-28 Panama verdict & the corruption reference
In the Supreme Court’s July 28 Panama case verdict, the five-member bench had ordered NAB to file a reference against Dar. JIT had presented the proofs of a discrepancy between his declared sources of income and his actual wealth. On September 8, NAB had filed a reference against Dar, and three separate references against ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Children—Maryam, Hassan, and Hussain.
On the Apex Courts orders, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed the reference against Dar in which it was alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx)”. On October 04, Dar was indicted over the corruption charges. In November 2017, he was relieved of his duties as the FM of the country.
Dar, however, missed the accountability court proceedings citing ill health. For a while, his allegedly deliberate disappearance halted the proceedings and his counsel continued to present lame excuses in the court, leading the court to reject his application seeking exemption from the appearance.
Will Dar return to Pakistan to face charges?
Meanwhile, the court had earlier issued the red warrants to arrest Dar in London, and Pakistani authorities had approached the UK government over this, however, due to the absence of any formal agreement with the UK, nothing concrete happened in this regard. After the visit of British Home Secretary Sajid Javid, and the announcement of a justice and accountability initiative’ between the two countries, Pakistani authorities are increasingly hopeful of Dar’s arrest.
The auction of Dar’s assets is a step in a right direction as it ensures that law is taking its course against the strongmen of the country.
Over the years, the powerful elite and cronies have pushed themselves above the law. They use the political power and force the institutions and compromise their doctrines to avoid justice. Dar has allegedly obstructed the court proceedings as he did not let the accountability court fulfill the orders of the Apex court to conclude the cases within a stipulated time.
Dar is not the only politicians, who have made the mockery of the system. The list of such offenders is long. The alleged criminals in Pakistan easily get a let off and are given the protocol at the expense of the state funds. Despite the change in the political horizon of the country and the bail of Nawaz in IHC, the exemplary punishment for the powerful elite remains doubtful.
The auction of Dar’s assets is a step in a right direction as it ensures that law is taking its course against the strongmen of the country. But, the decisive amendments in law and efforts to deal with all powerful under one law remain a challenge.