Ishaq Dar may not return to Pakistan in near future: PM Abbasi

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Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar may not return to Pakistan in the near future.

He was talking to media at Manchester airport. He further said that any reports regarding rifts within the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were baseless; however, there might be some rifts in the lower ranks of the party.

The prime minister also said that Ishaq Dar refused to meet him at the hospital, where he is undergoing a heart procedure.

According to reports, Dar checked in to the hospital for treatment last week and underwent angiography on Thursday. The hospital source confirmed that Ishaq Dar was advised by doctors to extend his stay in London and get treatment on a priority basis.

Ishaq Dar’s lawyer had told the National Accountability (NAB) court on Thursday that Ishaq Dar was in London for treatment of his heart problem, hence was unable to appear before the accountability court hearing on a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference filed against him pertaining to his assets beyond means.

The accountability court had rejected his application seeking exemption from personal appearance, maintaining his arrest warrants and had adjourned the hearing till November 8.

Earlier, the anti-graft watchdog’s Lahore office ordered all concerned departments and banks to freeze Dar’s accounts as well as any moveable or immovable assets that he owns in Pakistan and had also issued arrest warrants against him for not appearing before the court.

The Supreme Court (SC), in its Panama Papers case verdict, had ordered NAB to investigate the accused named in the report filed by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

The JIT had pointed out an exorbitant increase in Dar’s assets from 2008 to 2009. NAB authorities summoned the minister but he did not appear for investigation, arguing that NAB could not investigate him as he had filed a review petition in the apex court.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has reportedly submitted Dar’s tax return data from the last 20 years to NAB. The SECP has also handed over the records of seven companies owned by the minister and his family members to the anti-corruption watchdog.

Dar is a close relative of Sharif and was among the select few who had direct access to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Dar, who virtually acted as the deputy prime minister and headed over 45 government committees, had lost Sharif’s trust during the Panama Papers investigation when the former premier was informed that his finance minister was looking to strike a deal with the investigators, as he had done in 2000 in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

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