ISLAMABAD: Former finance minister Ishaq Dar has said he does not expect justice from the Supreme Court in a case alleging he amassed wealth beyond his known sources of income, as the country’s government has stepped up efforts to seek his extradition from the United Kingdom where he has lived since October 2017.
In September 2017, a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court indicted Dar for having wealth beyond his known sources of income.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Dar said he would not return to Pakistan until treatment for cervical problems had concluded and he was sure the courts would rule justly in his case.
“What justice I should expect from these courts,” he said when asked if he had faith in the Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa-led Supreme Court.
The former finance minister said the case against him was based on a “mala fide” report by the joint investigation team that said Dar had not filed tax returns between 1981 and 2001.
Dar claimed that his returns, filed over 35 years, are with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). He also questioned the Supreme Court’s decision to include two members of the intelligence agencies as part of the six-person JIT team.
Although the military has carefully distanced itself from the proceedings, the team’s composition had fueled rumors that the Army had a hidden hand in the probe.
Dar was credited with steering Pakistan’s economy to a sounder footing following a 2013 balance of payments crisis but critics say his reluctance to let the rupee weaken to ease current account pressures was symptomatic of a government making economic decisions with one eye on the 2018 general election.
“You have to be sensible to deal with your own matters and not depend on foreign advice which is flawed sometimes,” Dar said. “I have often told international organizations that you have ruined many countries’ economies.”
In January this year, a Supreme Court bench started hearing a petition to bring Dar back to Pakistan and last week, media reports emerged that the United Kingdom and Pakistan had signed a memorandum of understanding on May 24 for Dar’s extradition.
“MoU is not an agreement; there is a huge difference between an MoU and reaching a final understanding,” Dar said when asked if he thought his extradition was a real possibility.
“The judicial process cannot be influenced by the executive here, in this country [the UK] … like our country [Pakistan],” Dar said. “This [UK] is not a banana republic, the judicial system is very strong, due process is very strong, so that’s why they won’t be able to Inshallah [God willing] achieve their wish [of extradition] any time.”
He said even if the UK government did agree to the request to initiate the extradition process, the Pakistan government would first have to prove that the case against Dar was not politically motivated.
“The UK government, I hope and expect, that they would not trigger the judicial process and they will understand that this is a politically motivated case, this is political victimization, persecution of a person who was the finance minister,” Dar said. “The government of Pakistan will have to establish their bona fide case [if they pursue extradition] … Everything is accounted for, I have all the evidence. So they will have a very embarrassing situation.”
Responding to conflicting reports that he had applied for political asylum in the UK, Dar said he had entered the UK on a visa that was valid until 2020, but the Pakistani government had canceled his passport last September. He had informed the UK authorities about this development, he said, but had not “heard from them since long.”