Prosecution witnesses record statement in graft hearing against Dar

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  • Court dismisses former finance minister’s request to appoint Qazi Misbah as his counsel

ISLAMABAD: Four witnesses recorded their statements and presented former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s salary and assets records before an accountability court in Islamabad hearing into references against the senator on Monday.

Dar is facing charges for having assets beyond his known sources of income.

During Monday’s hearing, the prosecution’s witnesses, including a private bank officer, Afsar Faisal Shehzad, Cabinet Division Deputy Secretary Qamar Zaman and National Assembly Director Budget Sherdil Khan’s statements were recorded.

Shehzad provided the bank account details of Dar’s wife, Tabassum.

Sher Dil Khan also recorded his statement and provided details of Dar’s political career and the various portfolios he has held since the early 1990s.

Khan told the court that the former minister had first become a member of the NA in 1993 on the NA-95 (Lahore) seat. He was receiving a salary of Rs14,000 a month as a member of the NA at the time, Khan added.

He said that in 1997, Dar was appointed the minister of commerce. Two years later, in 1999, former president Pervez Musharaf came into power after removing then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

In 2013, Dar was made the minister for economic affairs, revenue and statistics. He was also given the responsibilities of privatisation, Khan told the court.

In August 2017, after Nawaz was disqualified by the Supreme Court, Dar was removed as finance minister ─ a portfolio he occupied again for a short while in Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s cabinet.

As he completed his statement, Khan said that the copies of the real notifications of Dar’s appointments and removals were available.

Qamar Zaman, the third witness presented by the prosecution before the court during the hearing, provided details pertaining to Dar’s income and allowances.

The fourth witness, Wasif Hussain, Cabinet Division deputy secretary, also recorded his statement presenting details of Dar’s appointment as minister and other portfolios.

The court directed NAB to submit its report pertaining to confiscation of properties of Dar and his guarantor and dismissed Dar’s request to appoint Qazi Misbah as his counsel.

Former NADRA director Syed Qaboos Aziz will appear before the court as NAB’s witness in the next hearing.

In the previous hearing of the case on December 12, the court had declared Dar a proclaimed offender for his continued absence from proceedings in a reference against him.

The court also issued a final warning to the guarantors of the former finance minister to produce him in court or forfeit surety bonds worth Rs5 million.

A fifth witness was expected to record his statement before the court during the proceedings but was unable to do so due to other commitments.

The accountability reference case has been adjourned until Dec 21.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader is currently receiving medical treatment in London.

According to a notification issued by the accountability department, Dar is suffering from no such ailment that cannot be treated in Pakistan.

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-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

In its reference against the finance minister, NAB 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”.

Last month, the government withdrew the portfolio of finance minister of Dar.

However, the former finance minister may have heaved a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court dismissed NAB’s application for the reopening the Hudaibya Paper Mills reference.