Nearly five years after declaring Ishaq Dar a “proclaimed offender”, a Pakistani court has reversed its order when the newly inducted finance minister appeared before it and gave an undertaking to face trial in a corruption case.
On Wednesday, Dar’s lead counsel Misbahul Hassan Qazi requested Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court to allow the 72-year minister to furnish bonds under the criminal procedure code instead of applying for bail.
The judge has issued a notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the application and sought its reply by October 7, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Bashir had recently suspended Dar’s arrest warrant and restrained law enforcement agencies from arresting the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, who on Monday returned to Pakistan from the UK after a five-year self-exile following a corruption case against him.
Dar, a chartered accountant by profession, returned to Pakistan on Monday, saying he had been unable to return because the former administration led by Imran Khan had cancelled his passport.
The new finance minister’s appointment comes after months of economic uncertainty marked by the devaluation of the rupee and crippling inflation, which will also be a big challenge for Dar.
Recovery after floods that affected over 33 million people and caused losses of over $40 billion would be another tough challenge for him. Dar also faces a challenge to convince the International Monetary Fund to soften some of its conditions under which Pakistan received a $6 billion bailout in 2019.
Advocate Qazi said Dar, who took oath on Wednesday as the fourth-time finance minister, was no longer a proclaimed offender after surrendering before the accountability court.
The accountability court on December 11, 2017 declared the PML-N leader a “proclaimed offender”.
According to the lead counsel, the court issues a proclamation of an accused person to procure his attendance.
“The moment an accused surrenders before the court, it fulfills the objective of proclamation and his status of proclaimed offender vanishes automatically,” he said. Qazi, however, said the court issued the notice to NAB on the application seeking permission to furnish bonds instead of applying for pre-arrest bail.
The finance minister, who is also related to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif as Dar’s son is married to one of the daughters of the elder Sharif, said his predecessor Miftah Ismail, who handed his resignation to Nawaz Sharif last Sunday, “did whatever he could and ensured the country to move away from default”.