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November 5, 2019

A recap of Ishaq Dar’s documented victimisation

Top Story

November 5, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In July 2016, The News while quoting NAB documents presented former finance minister Ishaq Dar case as a perfect case study of how the Bureau had been abusing its authority to blackmail the high profile politician despite repeated recommendations from its own officials to close the inquiry as nothing was ever found against the accused.

On Monday, this newspaper published a story of its special correspondent in London Murtaza Ali Shah — disclosing that the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has rejected the request of the Pakistan government to issue former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s red arrest warrant notice. The Interpol was not convinced with the government of Pakistan’s case against Dar.

In July 2016, The News while quoting NAB documents revealed that more than seven times the allegations against Ishaq Dar were probed by different inquiry officers and every time the recommendations remained the same- “Close the case”. However, since 2000 one chairman after the other had been responding with the direction to “Pend” the case.

Investigation against Ishaq Dar started in year 2000 and on April 10, 2001, the then inquiry officer Shoukat Ali of FIA recommended the closure of the case, as allegations were not substantiated. But, a fortnight later, on April 24, 2001, the case was entrusted to another investigation officer Abu Zar Sabtain, who too, in July the same year, recommended the closure of the case.

Instead of closing the inquiry, in February 2002 a NAB deputy director while admitting that no incriminating evidence is available against Dar, yet he recommended that it would be appropriate to keep the case pending in order to get Dar’s statement as approver against Sharifs.

Later, in July 2002, again both the Prosecution and Operations Divisions of the NAB supported the closure of the case but the then chairman directed to “pend” the inquiry on July 27, 2002.

On Dec 20, 2002, the case was re-opened but the then Director Monitoring again recommended the closure of the case. But on Dec 27, 2002, the then DG (IM) observed on minute sheet that the case be kept on hold till Dar makes a statement as approver in the court.

The case remained under process at various desks till the then APGA remarked on the file on July 17, 2003: “I Mr Najam had brief the Chairman 2/3 days back. Today I placed the file before the Chairman. He desired that matter be kept pending for the time being.”

The News 2016 story while quoting the documents adding, once again the matter was revived and in September 2004, the case was processed afresh for closure. However, the then chairman once again directed to pend the case on Sept 9, 2004.

The case was once again processed afresh on Dec 22, 2005 and it was decided to get the details of oversees assets of Dar. In Sept 2008, all the details of all his assets, both within Pakistan and outside, were presented in a report, with the recommendation that the case be closed.

The report said that Dar not only hailed from a well-established family but as Chartered Accountant, he earned huge amount of money. “He did not incur any expenditure/investment which is disproportionate to his source of income,” the report said, adding that Dar was also working as financial adviser of Shaikh A Nahayan since 2002 for which he was earning a huge amount.

The report and its recommendation regarding closure of case against Dar was supported by DPGA stating that cash flow chart of the period from 1985 to 1999 showed that total income of the accused was Rs60,765,785 and expenditure was Rs22, 356,837.

But despite this report, the case remained dormant till November 2013 when Prosecution Division raised the question that the case was not discussed in the executive board meeting of the Bureau because of the policy regarding politicians’ cases.

Later as per the policy of the last NAB management to review all pending cases to decide either for prosecution or closure on the basis of available evidence, inquiry into Dar case was to be completed by Dec 31, 2015.

After re-examination of the matter, the NAB Lahore office in 2015 recommended the matter for closure as no fresh evidence was available. The Prosecution Division of the Bureau endorsed the NAB Lahore recommendation for the closure of the case.

The then acting chairman on Aug 21, 2015 desired, “One last effort may be made through our UAE embassy to ascertaining info on properties/bank transactions before finalisation of case”. However, later on, when case was put up to the then acting chairman on Aug 31, 2015 on the same file, he directed, “Disregard instructions at para 41 of ICW file, for finalisation of investigation, NAB would need statement of the person being investigated. Ask NAB (Lahore) to do the needful; and obtain all relevant info for finalisation of the case. We are not likely get any joy from Embassy.”

On the direction of the acting chairman, Dar’s statement was obtained in which he said that neither he nor his spouse owns any property, share or bank account outside Pakistan. He further declared that his two sons were independent professionals and had no business interest in Pakistan.

Dar added that out of his foreign professional earnings, partial amount was gifted to his sons to start business and same has already been declared and disclosed to the Election Commission of Pakistan and Tax authorities.

The case was again discussed in 23rd session of high level committee on Oct 14, 2015 when it was decided to process the case for executive board meeting (EBM) of the Bureau.

Meanwhile, the NAB Lahore in Feb 2016 forwarded a detailed report on each allegation against Dar. The report showed that there was no evidence of any relations/association of Dar with the business affairs of Qazi family; there is no evidence of any offshore company in the British Virgin Islam owned by Dar.

The report said that the business capital of Dar, both within Pakistan and outside, was also probed and it was found that there were no assets disproportionate to his source of income.

The documents show that the NAB Lahore vide letter dated 23-06-2015, 03-07-2015, 07-10-2015 and 19-02-2016 recommended the closure of the case because no fresh evidence was available.

The Lahore NAB report in Dar’s case was endorsed by both the Operation Division and the Prosecution Division of the Bureau, which led to its review by the EMB, which finally after 16 years had decided to close the inquiry.