Islamabad: A Pakistani anti-corruption court today issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against embattled Finance Minister Ishaq Dar after he failed to appear for several court hearings in a graft case linked to the Panama Papers scandal. Dar, who has been charged with amassing wealth beyond his known sources of income, has missed several court hearings conducted by the anti-graft agency the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), prompting a judge to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant.
The Accountability Court also dismissed Dar's petition for exemption from hearings. Judge Mohammad Bashir asked 67-year-old Dar's guarantor, Ahmad Ali Qudoosi when the finance minister is expected to appear in court. In response, Qudoosi said Dar will fully recover in three to six weeks and will attend the hearing after that. However, the court was not satisfied and issued a non-bailable warrant against him. The hearing was then adjourned until November 21.
The minister had skipped the previous three hearings on account of medical treatment. Dar's counsel, Ayesha Hamid, requested the court to grant Dar exemption from appearance and continue with the case by approving the appointment of a legal representative (pleader) but the court dismissed the request. He also ordered Dar's guarantor to ensure the minister's presence at the next hearing or be prepared to have the Rs five million surety bond confiscated.
At the November 2 hearing, the accountability court had approved NAB's request to freeze Dar's assets. The charges against Dar followed an investigation into the finances of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not declaring a small salary from his son s off-shore company.
On July 28, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered NAB to file three cases against 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.