As the trial resumed against Ishaq Dar in a corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the finance minister failed to appear for the hearing in Islamabad’s accountability court on Monday.
The court issued bailable arrest warrants for the minister after rejecting his counsel’s application seeking Dar’s exemption from appearance in today’s hearing. The hearing was adjourned until November 2.
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Proceedings in the trial could not advance due to Dar’s absence, even though prosecution witness Abdul Rehman Gondal, branch manager of a private bank’s parliament branch, had appeared in the court with two gunny sacks full of documents related to the minister’s bank accounts.
At the outset of the hearing, Dar’s counsel Khawaja Haris filed an application seeking exemption for the minister’s appearance in the court today and adjournment of the hearing until Nov 2. The court initially reserved its decision on the matter but later rejected the application.
Haris stated in the application that Dar, after attending the 16th Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Ministerial Conference in Dushanbe, had travelled to Jeddah. He said the minister fell ill in Jeddah and subsequently had to go to London for medical treatment.
He requested the court to exempt Dar from the hearing as he has to undergo medical check-up in London today.
NAB prosecution opposed the application, urging the court to issue arrest warrants against the minister instead.
The court accepted NAB’s appeal and ordered Dar to appear in the court on Nov 2 after issuing his arrest warrants.
The court had indicted Dar last month in a NAB reference for owning assets “beyond his known sources of income”.
At the last hearing, the court had summoned two additional witnesses, Faisal Shahzad and Mohammad Azeem, both from the banking sectors, in today’s hearing.
‘Assets beyond known income’
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 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”.