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Dar Restored
Ishaq Dar

Dar Restored

The finance minister gets back his frozen properties and bank accounts following NAB amendment

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court has dropped all corruption charges against Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, and restored his property and bank accounts following recent amendments made to the powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The accountability court judge, Mohammad Bashir, remarked that after the NAB Amendment Act 2022, the case does not fall under the court’s jurisdiction. As such, the court also has no powers to decide on an appeal Ishaq Dar had earlier filed for acquit-tal, he said.

So, the trial against Ishaq Dar ends here.

The NAB law was amended by the parliament in July 2022 to restrict the corruption watch-dog’s role only to cases involving Rs 500 million and above. It also took away the presi-dent’s powers to appoint judges of the accountability courts, and the powers of the NAB chairman to order secret surveillance of corruption suspects by government agencies.

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Subsequent to the amendment, accountability courts across the country have re-turned hundreds of cases as falling beyond their jurisdiction.

Reference against the PML-N leader was filed in the light of the Supreme Court’s ver-dict in the famous Panama Reference in December 2017, accusing him of possessing assets disproportionate to his declared sources of income.

After his indictment in the case, Dar flew to London and remained in self-exile for nearly five years. He was declared a proclaimed offender due to his continuous ab-sence, but his arrest warrants were suspended in October when he returned to the country and appeared before the court.

Following the amendment, the Lahore city administration has returned Dar’s property which was earlier confiscated. It includes a 4-kanal house in Gulberg-III, three plots in Al-Falah Housing Society, and four bank accounts holding a total sum of Rs 5.58 billion.

Also unfrozen were his properties in Islamabad, including a six-acre farmland, a 2-Kanal plot plot in the Parliamentarians Enclave, another plot in the Senate Cooperative Hous-ing Society, two other plots measuring 2 kanals and 9 marlas respectively, and six vehi-cles.

These properties were confiscated by NAB in 2017 on charges that Dar had acquired them either in his name or in the names of his dependents. It said the assets were worth Rs 831.7 million which was disproportionate to his known sources of income.

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During Ishaq Dar’s absence from ther country, his spouse had challenged the confisca-tion of the Gulberg house in Lahore on the plea that her husband had verbally given it to her 1989 as her dower amount. She argued that since she had accepted the gift and was residing there, NAB had erroneously shown it as an asset of Dar.

Timeline

  • Ishaq Dar left the country after his indictment in September 2017, and re-mained in self-exile for five years.
  • On 11 December 2017, the accountability court declared him a proclaimed of-fender and issued a perpetual warrant of his arrest.
  • On 22 February 2022, NAB issued instructions to sell Dar’s house in Lahore’s Gulberg area whose price was estimated at around Rs 25 million.
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  • In September 2022, his arrest warrants were suspended until 7 October, giving Dar two weeks to surrender to the law.
  • On 26 September 2022 Ishaq Dar returned to the country to join the govern-ment as finance minister.
  • On 28 September 2022, soon after taking oath as a federal minister, Dar ap-peared before the accountability court and made a statement there that delay in his appearance was caused due to the cancellation of his passport by the PTI government.

NAB amendment

In August, the National Assembly passed the National Accountability (Second Amend-ment) Bill 2022, which sought to exclude private transactions from NAB’s scope. Under the amended bill, the pecuniary jurisdiction of NAB was restricted to mega scandals involving transactions equal to or above Rs 500 million. It was also proposed that supplementary references can only be filed with the permission of the court in order to prevent delays in case proceedings beyond one year. As per the bill, the investigation officers shall not harass any person during the investi-gation or inquiry and they will confine their questions relevant to the investigation or inquiry or for extracting evidence. Following the amendment, accountability courts have withdrawn close to 280 corrup-tion cases, including cases against filed against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, former chief minister of Punjab, Hamza Shahbaz, the National Assembly Speaker, Raja Pervez Ashraf, and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani.

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