Pakistani graft court declares Finance Minister an absconder

Islamabad: Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was declared an absconder by an accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday in a corruption reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
During the hearing, NAB’s investigating officer Nadir Abbass told the court that a team had visited the minister’s residence in Lahore and Islamabad after non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against him.
However, Abbass said, Dar was not found at either one of his residential addresses. For some time now, the minister has been in London where he is undergoing medical treatment.
The investigating officer claimed that the minister, who is accused of amassing assets with an approximate value of Rs 831.7 million – disproportionate to his known sources of income – is in London to save himself from the court’s action, Dawn reported.
Declaring Dar an absconder, the accountability court said that steps will be taken to declare the minister a proclaimed offender within ten days.
A show-cause notice was issued to Dar’s guarantor, who was asked to submit a reply before the court by November 24.
Dar’s lawyer on Tuesday presented a medical report for his client dated November 16 in court. The Finance Minister has attempted to excuse himself from appearing in court citing his ill health.
Dar’s lawyer hit out at the NAB team, saying that despite the court’s earlier orders, the Finance Minister’s report was not verified by the accountability body.
“They’re afraid that once the report is verified, they’ll run out of things to say,” the lawyer claimed.
The special prosecutor informed the court that NAB had already written to the Foreign Office for verification of Dar’s medical report.
The hearing was adjourned till December 4.