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Islamabad: Pakistan’s finance minister Ishaq Dar was indicted by an anti-corruption court hearing the Panama Papers case for possessing assets beyond known sources of income.
The minister pleaded not guilty to all charges, terming them baseless. Anti-corruption watchdog National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on 8 September 8 filed a case against Dar for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income following the 28 July verdict of the Supreme Court.
The apex court disqualified Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister and ordered corruption cases against him, his children Maryam, Husain and Hasan and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar.
Chaos prevailed outside the accountability court when Dar arrived for the hearing.The doors to the court were shut for reporters, and the finance minister had to wait at least 20 minutes before he was allowed to enter the court premises from the back door.
The minister refused to accept the charges read out by accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir and said his assets were in accordance with income and he will prove it with evidence during the trial.The court ordered the NAB to present evidence and the NAB prosecutor submitted a list of 28 witnesses whom it would present in the court to testify in support of the charges.
Dar also asked the court to allow him to skip personal appearance during the trial and the court said it will decide later. The court has already decided to conduct day-to-day hearing in the case. Arif Chaudhry, President, Islamabad High Court Bar Association, said that evidence of prosecution will be important as the court would decide the case on the basis of it.
“The evidence will be judged and defence lawyers will be given an opportunity to present counter evidence to reject the charges,” he said.
Rana Sanalullah, law minister of Punjab Province and a vocal member of ruling Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) rejected the charges against Dar. “The charges and indictment of Dar is a joke,” he said.
Dar has a long association with Sharif family. Dar’s son has been married to Sharif’s daughter Asma Nawaz. He was also imprisoned when the Sharif government was toppled in 1999.
He was under pressure by the Opposition to resign after the NAB filed case against him but so far he has refused to do so. The NAB has filed three cases of corruption and money laundering against Sharif, his sons — Hassan and Hussain, daughter Maryam, son-in-law Safdar, and Finance Minister Dar in the Accountability Court in Islamabad and Rawalpindi recently. Sharif’s family has alleged that the cases are politically motivated.