LONDON: Former finance minister and a close aide of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Ishaq Dar has said he owns only one property in Pakistan and that too has been seized by the government.
“I have my main residence in Pakistan which has been taken over by this regime,” he said, hitting out at the incumbent PTI-led government. “I haven’t gotten too many properties. My net worth is what has been (inaudible)”.
The PML-N leader, speaking in BBC News’ show “HARDtalk”, claimed that he had declared all his assets in his tax returns and that he stood for transparency. When asked whether he or his family owned any assets, Dar replied in the negative.
Responding to a question, Dar said that his sons were financially independent and that he does not provide for them, confirming that they owned a villa. “They’re adult, they’re married and they have been doing business for the past 17 years,” he said of his sons owning the villa.
When asked whether he was in Britain to escape accountability in Pakistan, Dar replied in the negative. He said that the “corruption rhetoric” has been used throughout Pakistan’s history by dictators and the current government was doing the same.
“I can prove that I have done nothing [wrong] and I have all the evidence [to support this]. My name was not mentioned in the Panama Papers,” Dar said.
Dar, lashing out at anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau, accused it of targeting the government’s opponents. “It lost its integrity a long time ago,” he said of the anti-graft body, adding that he had said the same when he was a minister during a press conference.
The former finance minister said that the prime allegation against him was that he had not filed his tax returns for the past 20 years. This, Dar said, was false as he had filed his tax returns in the UK, the US and Pakistan as well. “I am here for my medical treatment — I have a cervical [issue],” he said, adding that he was in London for almost three years.
The host asked Dar if his property and all the taxes he had paid were on record then why he was hesitant on going to Pakistan, the former finance minister replied: “Well, let’s see what is happening in Pakistan. Where are the human rights in Pakistan? Dozens of people have been killed in NAB’s custody, virtually.”
“What credibility does the Imran Khan government have? The whole world has witnessed, it was a stolen election,” said Dar in response to a question as to whether he or Nawaz Sharif has any credibility with the masses.
He said that everybody knew “the election was stolen from us” and that human rights observers and independent analysts were of the view that the 2018 general elections were rigged.
He said that the results transmission system was disrupted and that polling agents were expelled from the polling stations and the PML-N electable were made to switch loyalties before the elections.
In response to Nawaz Sharif’s allegations against the current army chief, Dar said: “The buck stops at the top”, adding that the former prime minister was fighting for civilian supremacy when his government was sent packing.
“Is it a surprise to you, Mr Sackur?” he asked the interviewer, saying that the “deep state” existed in Pakistan and everyone knew about it.
When asked whether he was accusing the Pakistan military of subverting democratic processes in the country, Dar replied in the
negative. “It’s not the military, let’s talk about individuals,” he said. “It is the wish-list, the plan of certain individuals.”
The host then asked Dar about Nawaz Sharif’s ascension in politics and how he once used to be close to General Ziaul Haq, the former finance minister said he did not agree with the analysis.
Dar said the incumbent interior minister had said that if Nawaz Sharif had problems with the establishment, he would not have been prime minister for four times. “Why would he say that?” he asked.
The PML-N leader said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had given “21 statements” against the military in the past.
“I mean, he was known as Taliban Khan,” said Dar.
Responding to another question about PDM leaders backing away from Nawaz Sharif’s accusations against the army, Dar said that there was confusion among people about the former prime minister and the armed forces.
“I think there seems to be confusion in the matter. Mr Nawaz Sharif, as prime minister or otherwise, is not against the army,” he said. “He blames certain individuals and says the buck stops at the top.”
Dar said that PM Imran Khan was leading a fascist government in Pakistan, saying that when Nawaz Sharif was prime minister, the country was well on its way to prosperity. He said that for the first time since the 1950s, Pakistan had reported a negative GDP whereas during the PML-N’s government, the stock market was performing well.
He said that the Opposition’s ultimate aim was “supremacy of democracy” and the rule of law, calling upon all institutions to work within their domain.
APP adds: Ishaq Dar faced embarrassment when the anchor Stephen Sackur rebuked him for rejecting corruption charges against Nawaz Sharif. Dar claimed that in both the cases’ judgments the prosecution had not been able to prove any corruption, kickbacks and loss to the exchequer.
Rebuffing his assertions, the anchorperson said: “I am sorry sir, but it is quite clear that he (Nawaz) is a convicted criminal and again the accountability court which works alongside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) found against Mr Sharif, and I believe he was given a 10-year sentence that was ultimately reduced to seven years and he was then allowed to come London on medical grounds the same medical grounds due to which you are in London now.” The anchor also questioned the credibility of the former finance minister and Nawaz Sharif for leading the anti-campaign government in Pakistan.
Ishaq Dar also had to earn humiliation when the host quoted the European Union report to reject his allegation of rigged elections in 2018.
Dar was declared an absconder by the Supreme Court in 2017 when he failed to appear before it since he was in London, reportedly undergoing medical treatment. Since then, he remains in London. He also came under severe criticism on social media as netizens grilled him for his mockery on the international talk show.