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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Why is Ishaq Dar in trouble with the FIA and NAB?

News Analysis |

Red warrant for the Former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has been issued by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had taken up the matter of Mr. Dar’s repeated absence from hearings despite being given several directions. Mr Dar’s properties in Pakistan have been forfeited. Interior Ministry has informed the Supreme Court that the former finance minister will be brought back with Interpol’s help.

An Interpol Red Notice, or red warrant, is an international arrest warrant. Interpol (the International Criminal Police Organization) circulates notices to member countries listing persons who are wanted for extradition.

Ishaq Dar had left the country last year in October, and since then, has failed to appear in court for cases pertaining to possible embezzlement and nepotism.

Despite CJP Nisar’s warning to cancel Ishaq Dar’s passport, it has not been revoked because Dar could refuse to return to Pakistan on the plea of cancellation of the passport.  Dar’s senatorship was canceled by the Apex court last May.

Ishaq Dar’s appointment of PTV’s chairman on a hefty package and his rapidly increasing wealth landed him in trouble

Mr. Dar is required to appear before the SC for allegedly appointing playwright and columnist Ataul Haq Qasmi as chairman of the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) on a hefty package. The court had directed Ishaq Dar, the  Federal Secretary Information and Secretary Finance, of that time period, to appear before the court and explain the appointment of former chairman PTV.

The FIA is not waiting for a reply from Interpol to proceed the case. If the FIA gets a green signal, the former finance minister will be brought back to Pakistan to be presented before the court.

Mr. Qasmi received millions of rupees as a chairman of the state-run TV channel. The top judge inquired, during the hearing, that who instructed to pay Attaul Haq Qasmi Rs 15, 00,000 as a monthly income. “Was he eligible for this?” the CJP went on saying that “Pakistan is a poor country and this money belongs to taxpayers. How can it be distributed like this?” the chief justice asked.

Apart from the case of nepotism, NAB had directed Ishaq Dar to appear before the investigation officer for the probe of illegal contracts of mobile 4G service.

In the embezzlement reference against the former finance minister, NAB alleged that Ishaq Dar has “acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs 831.678 million (approx)”.

The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”.

91 times more rich

Ishaq Dar’s wealth increased exponentially between 1993 and 2009, which left others baffled about his sources of income. According to a report by JIT, Dar’s wealth increased 91 times since PML-N come back into power. He paid  Rs. 0.7 million as tax in 1993, while in 2009 he paid Rs. 40 million as tax. Dar had acquired assets and pecuniary interests / resources worth around Rs. 831.678 million in his own name and in the name of his dependents.  Ishaq Dar and his wife also have seven accounts in different Pakistani banks besides eight in the name of their companies according to the information acquired through the State Bank of Pakistan.

The Hospital bed escape

Moreover, former Finance Minister was declared an absconder by an accountability court in Islamabad on 21 November 2017 in a corruption reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). It may be important to mention that Mr. Dar has been in London for a medical check-up since October 2017.

Read more: Ishaq Dar refuses to resign despite pressure from PM, cabinet

In May 2018, the legal counsel of former finance minister submitted a report in the SC, saying Mr. Dar was not well to appear before the court. The report which was issued by the London Neurosurgery Partnership and dated April 26, stated that Dar also had cardiac issues and had to undergo an emergency stent implant in the past. “At this point in time he is probably getting to the stage where one may need to consider surgical options more seriously,” the report said.

The court had directed Ishaq Dar, the then Federal Secretary Information Muhammad Azam and the then Secretary Finance Waqar Masood to appear before the court and explain the appointment of former chairman PTV.

Contrary to what Dar’s legal counsel and aides have been saying, Mr. Dar was recently seen and captured by a journalist in London.  Mr. Dar seemed to be in decent health as he walked down the London streets.

“When will you return to Pakistan?”, journalists asked him as he tried to rush into his car.

Dar replied: “I will return whenever my health improves.”

Read more: Ishaq Dar: Difficult times ahead..?

Politicians and influential individuals have found a good escape in hospital beds from appearing in courts. Senior judge of the SC, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, had recently inquired why everyone who is summoned by NAB suddenly falls ill? He suggested that NAB should construct a state-of-the-art hospital to treat those people. He further said that some people were exploiting the law that allowed prisoners, who required medical services, to be transferred to hospitals. “It has become a regular practice,” he claimed. “Medical boards grant favors to people accused of crimes.”

The FIA is waiting for a reply from Interpol to proceed the case. If the FIA gets a green signal, the former finance minister will be brought back to Pakistan to be presented before the court.