LONDON: Former federal finance minister Ishaq Dar has become stateless after Pakistan’s federal government reportedly cancelled the diplomatic passports of Ishaq Dar and his wife.
The cancellation of the passport means that Ishaq Dar is in London without a travel document and unable to travel to Pakistan to comply with the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s deadline for him to make appearance before him and for that matter before any other court.
Ishaq Dar and his wife were issued diplomatic passports--a legal entitlement--after surrendering their blue passports when he became leader of the opposition in the Senate of Pakistan in 2012 and continued to have the same when he resigned in June 2013 as opposition leader and took oath as federal minister.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said that Ishaq Dar was bound to surrender his and wife’s diplomatic passports within 30 days of ceasing office as the federal finance minister and that his passport was cancelled over non-compliance.
However, The News has seen correspondence between Ishaq Dar and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which Ishaq Dar requested the ministry to issue him and his wife blue passports so that they could surrender their diplomatic passports but Dar’s request has not been entertained till date.
The News has seen papers which show that on 20th July this year, a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was delivered to the Lahore residence of Ishaq Dar asking him to surrender his and spouse’s passports. It’s understood that many other ministers and officials holding red passports from the previous PML-N government were also asked to do the same.
On 5th august, Dar replied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed that it wasn’t possible for him and his wife to surrender their diplomatic passports unless they were provided alternate official passports, for which they are entitled to.
Ishaq Dar told the ministry that since he was unable to travel to Pakistan because he was undergoing medical treatment in London and sent to the ministry notarised letters from his doctor--duly attested by Foreign Ministry of UK --confirming that his medical treatment was continuing.
Ishaq Dar wrote to the ministry that he and his wife will be unable to surrender their diplomatic passport “prior to the issuance of official passports in lieu of the diplomatic passports”. He requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “to direct the directorate general immigrations and passports to instruct the High Commission of Pakistan in London to take the biometrics” of himself and his spouse for the issuance of official passports.
The News learnt from sources in the Pakistan High Commission, London, that last month Mrs Dar got issued green passport after surrendering her diplomatic passport.
It’s understood that till late the ministry didn’t entertain request of Ishaq Dar and ended up cancelling his passport, without issuing him an official passport.
Legal experts have said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has been asked to approach Interpol for extradition of Ishaq Dar but the cancellation of his passport will almost certainly benefit Dar as he will be seen as a victim of government’s harsh political decision-making. Lawyers have said that it’s highly unlikely that the Interpol will entertain request of the PTI government. Only recently, the Interpol refused to issue red warrants for Pervez Musharraf and Hussain Haqqani.
Barrister Amjad Malik said that if Dar has been refused official passport then he is “stateless” by default and has a claim to seek protection under article 1A of the Geneva Convention for political reasons”.
He said that if Dar’s passport cancelled and diplomatic status withdrawn without issuing official passport then being the Member (elect) of the upper house (Senate) he will have no choice but to claim UN protection and seek travel document of United Nations to ensure his foreign movement and secure an international status.