Ar­rest war­rant is­sued for Pak­istan’s fi­nance min­is­ter


ISLAMABAD: A Pak­istani anti-cor­rup­tion court on Tues­day is­sued an ar­rest war­rant for Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ishaq Dar af­ter the vet­eran politi­cian failed to turn up for sev­eral court hear­ings.

The war­rant comes at an awk­ward time for Pak­istan, which wants to raise in ex­cess of $1 bil­lion on in­ter­na­tional debt mar­kets through a Sukuk and a Eurobond in com­ing months and has been try­ing to woo in­ter­na­tional in­vestors.

Dar, who has been charged with amass­ing wealth be­yond his known sources of in­come, has missed three weeks of court hear­ings con­ducted by the anti-graft agency the Na­tional Ac­count­abil­ity Bureau (NAB).

Judge Mo­hammed Bashir is­sued the war­rant on the grounds of “con­tin­ued ab­sence” from the court, ac­cord­ing to a court state­ment.

Dar, who has pleaded not guilty, is re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal treat­ment in Lon­don and now faces ar­rest upon his re­turn to Pak­istan.

The case has been ad­journed un­til Nov. 21.

The charges against Dar fol­lowed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fi­nances of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in July af­ter the Supreme Court dis­qual­i­fied him for not declar­ing a small salary from his son’s off-shore com­pany.

The fi­nance min­is­ter is one of Sharif’s clos­est po­lit­i­cal al­lies and Dar’s son has mar­ried Sharif’s daugh­ter. Both men deny any wrong­do­ing.

Dar has re­jected grow­ing calls to resign amid his le­gal woes and a wors­en­ing eco­nomic out­look for Pak­istan, which is battling to stave off a bal­ance of pay­ments cri­sis due to dwin­dling for­eign cur­rency re­serve and a widen­ing cur­rent ac­count deficit.

Dar was ini­tially lauded for steer­ing Pak­istan out of a bal­ance of pay­ments cri­sis in 2013 and re­turn­ing the nu­clear-armed coun­try to­ward a higher growth tra­jec­tory.

But over the past year he has faced crit­i­cism for his re­fusal to al­low the ru­pee to weaken to ease macroe­co­nomic pres­sures. He has also been ac­cused of erod­ing the cen­tral bank’s in­de­pen­dence.

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