Pakistan court issues arrest warrant for finance minister

Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is seen after a party meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, in this Sept. 26, 2017 file photo. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD — An anti-corruption court in Pakistan on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, media reported, after the veteran politician failed to turn up for several court hearings.

Dar, who has been charged with amassing wealth beyond his known sources of income, has for three weeks missed court hearings conducted by the anti-graft agency the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), prompting a judge to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant, the English-language Dawn newspaper and other media reported.

Dar, who is receiving medical treatment in London and now faces arrest upon his return to Pakistan, has pleaded not guilty.

The court had been in session for the proceedings of a corruption reference against Dar, who is accused of amassing assets of an approximate value of Rs831.7 million; disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The court also dismissed once again Dar’s petition for exemption from accountability hearings.

Dar’s absence was first attributed to ill health on Oct. 30, when the finance minister failed to appear before the court for a hearing. His counsel, Khawaja Harris, had subsequently informed the judges that the finance minister had been admitted to a private hospital in London.

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

In its reference against the finance minister, NAB has alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependents)”.

The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”. — Agencies