General

Court reserves decision on Ishaq Dar’s request for exemption from appearance

The accountability court hearing a corruption reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has reserved its decision on the defence’s plea to excuse the minister from appearance on medical grounds.
As the hearing began on Tuesday, with a slight delay owing to the defence counsel’s late entry, Dar’s counsel submitted the minister’s third medical report and pleaded the judge to grant his client exemption from appearance. 
The medical report states that one of Dar’s arteries is not functioning properly and the minister will have another medical checkup on November 29. 
The counsel also requested the court appoint a legal representative (pleader) on the minister’s behalf so the proceedings can continue. 
However, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Imran Shafique opposed the plea and requested the court to begin the procedure of declaring Dar a proclaimed offender due to his continuous absence. 
The judge then reserved his decision on the defence’s plea and will announce it shortly. 
Constant no-show 
The minister has skipped the last four hearings of the case, filed by the NAB in light of the Supreme Court’s Jule 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case, on account of receiving medical treatment in London. 
At the last hearing, the court had issued non-bailable warrants after the minister failed to appear in court. The court had also issued a notice to Dar’s guarantor for failing to ensure his presence.
Judge Mohammad Bashir had ordered Dar’s guarantor, Ahmad Ali Qudoosi, to ensure the minister’s presence today, warning that his surety bond of Rs5 million would otherwise be seized. 
The finance minister is accused of possessing assets disproportionate to his declared sources of income.
In recent days, calls for Dar’s resignation have gained strength, especially with regards to NAB’s moves to place his name on the Exit Control List. The minister’s assets have already been frozen by the NAB after a nod by the accountability court.