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Pak authorities move to bar Sharif from leaving country as finance minister steps down

The country’s anti-corruption watchdog has begun the process to place Sharif and four others on the interior ministry’s Exit Control List, even as finance minister Ishaq Dar, who is facing a graft case, has relinquished control of his ministry.

world Updated: Nov 18, 2017 18:41 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan,Nawaz Sharif,Ishaq Dar
File photo of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.(Reuters)

Authorities have initiated a move to bar ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and other members of his family from leaving Pakistan even as finance minister Ishaq Dar, who is facing a graft case, has relinquished control of his ministry.

The developments will add to the woes of ruling PML-N party and the Sharif family ahead of crucial parliamentary elections scheduled to be held next year. Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court on July 28 in connection with revelations in the Panama Papers and is facing several corruption cases.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, has begun the process to place Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain, daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Muhammad Safdar on the interior ministry’s Exit Control List (ECL), effectively barring them from leaving Pakistan.

An accountability or anti-corruption court last month declared Hassan and Hussain, who live outside Pakistan, “proclaimed offenders” or fugitives for skipping several hearings of three corruption cases filed against the Sharif family. The court has also issued non-bailable arrest warrants for them.

Hassan and Hussain have contended that the summons and warrants do not apply to them as they are British nationals.

On Saturday, TV news channels reported that embattled finance minister Ishaq Dar, who is related to Sharif, had resigned.

File photo of Pakistan's finance minister Ishaq Dar. (Reuters)

The PML-N denied these reports but Prime Minister’s House spokesperson Musadik Malik told the media the finance portfolio was under the control of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as Dar, 67, is undergoing treatment in London for a heart condition.

An accountability court hearing the case against Dar had issued a non-bailable arrest warrant when he failed to appear for the fourth time on November 14.

Acting on the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case, NAB filed a case against Dar pertaining to allegations that he owns assets worth Rs 831.7 million that are disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Dar has been accused of owning property worth millions of dollars in Pakistan, the UAE and the US which he had not declared to tax authorities. He continued to serve as finance minister despite being indicted by the accountability court indicted on September 27, drawing criticism from the opposition.

The Dawn newspaper reported the government has decided to replace Dar after getting the nod from Sharif, and several leaders were being considered for the post, including former finance minister Shaukat Tarin, former State Bank of Pakistan governor Ishrat Husain and interior minister Ahsan Iqbal.

First Published: Nov 18, 2017 18:36 IST