Ishaq Dar
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Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was indicted by an accountability court in Islamabad on Wednesday 27th September on corruption charges that have been filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

It also issued bailable arrest warrants for his children, Maryam, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, as well as retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, for not appearing on the due date

NAB has accused the minister, for having assets that are “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for.” Judge Mohammad Bashir, who is also overseeing the NAB cases against Nawaz Sharif and his family, read out charges to which the finance minister has pleaded not guilty.

The court has rejected Dar’s application of not appearing in person to hear the court proceedings. He has been told there will be day to day hearings, starting on October 4, after the Muharram holidays and he should appear in person.

Read more: Will NAB references compel “natural allies” to shake hands?

Closed court hearings is contentious

To avoid the raucousness and chaos that was observed a day earlier, when Nawaz Sharif presented himself in court, along with ministers and political ‘jiyalas’, Judge Bashir today ordered that media, political workers and lawyers not related to the case be kept out of the courtroom.

This action has caused concern on both sides, with PML-N saying they will not get a fair trial and the opposition saying that some ‘hidden’ deal may occur between the parties and Ishaq Dar may get a lenient hearing. They have requested that this at least be an in-trial recorded hearings.

Ishaq Dar has been characterized by the opposition as the ‘Economic Hitman’ from the character depicted in John Perkins book ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman

NAB prosecution has been asked by Judge Bashir to present at least two witnesses, these are thought to be 2 bank executives, who will testify against the finance minister.

NAB had filed a reference against Dar, on September 8, and three other separate references against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children.

NAB Accusations

NAB has stated, “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.”

Read more: NAB: National or Nawaz’s Accountability Bureau?

Instead of submitting bank documents to account for his income and assets, Ishaq Dar similar to his mentor, Nawaz Sharif, has only submitted personal letters from different people including Sheikhs to explain where the income has come from.

The current cases against Ishaq Dar and those against Nawaz Sharif have assumed an even greater importance for ensuring and introducing accountability in Pakistan’s history for the rich and powerful

Cases against finance minister, Ishaq Dar are not new, he has had similar cases against him since the 1990’s, he even spent some time in jail during the Musharraf government’s period.

The fear is that in Pakistan’s history, the rich and powerful, especially those that are politically connected, are never convicted by the courts. Individuals have been accused, charges have been brought against them, even if they reach trial courts they have often been quashed later.

The current cases against Ishaq Dar and those against Nawaz Sharif have assumed an even greater importance for ensuring and introducing accountability in Pakistan’s history for the rich and powerful. They also pose an unprecedented challenge for the judiciary of Pakistan – will there be a conviction at the end – or on technical grounds they will be released again.

Read more: Will NAB references compel “natural allies” to shake hands?

Cases against finance minister, Ishaq Dar are not new, he has had similar cases against him since the 1990’s, he spent some time in jail during the Musharraf government’s period also

The opposition has argued that Ishaq Dar has acted as Pakistan’s hitman, where he has taken huge loans at exorbitant cost creating a huge balance of Payments issue for Pakistan. Ishaq Dar has still not resigned despite huge pressure from the opposition. Media sources claim that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has told Nawaz Sharif that Ishaq Dar needs to resign and government in principle has decided he must be replaced.

New finance minister?

Sources mention that Mifta Ismail is being posed as the replacement finance minister. Apparently, he is being supported for the position by the heir apparent, Maryam Nawaz. Mifta Ismail is currently serving in the Board of Investment. He is a businessman from Karachi, was CEO of Candyland Sweets and is an economist, who has a Ph.D. from the prestigious Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

However, there is some disquiet over this proposal on the basis that, Pakistan’s looming external debt crisis needs a seasoned economist working as finance minister, who will understand and overcome Pakistan’s challenges, rather than a party loyalist or someone who is simply loyal to Nawaz Sharif and his daughter.

Read more: Will judicial activism enable JIT to get accountability?

Ishaq Dar: Economic Hitman or incompetent?

For the past four years, the opposition has been charging Ishaq Dar of running down the economy, by taking out huge foreign loans on high-interest rates to spend, to show that the PML_N government is increasing development in the country. He has not accounted for the future repayment of these loans.

Read more: Are Pakistani politicians dancing with Perkin’s hitmen?

Ishaq Dar has been characterized by the opposition as the ‘Economic Hitman’ from the character depicted in John Perkins book ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’. He has fallen low on any ability to understand what is driving the economy and to work on improving growth. During the PML-N’s period in government so far textile exports have plummeted and growth has been slow.

Read more: We work like the Mafia hitmen: Watch video of John Perkins…

A recent report by the ADB has highlighted that Pakistan’s exports fell annually during the tenure of the PML-N government by 2.5% on average from FY2013 to FY2017. They have also reported that the share of exports in GDP has halved from 13% in 2006 to a low 7.1% by FY2017.

On Tuesday, the accountability court also refused Nawaz Sharif’s application for personal attendance of court hearings. It also issued bailable arrest warrants for his children, Maryam, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, as well as retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, for not appearing on the due date.

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