The Supreme Court on Friday sought Federal Fin-ance Minister Ishaq Dar’s confession record when he was behind the bars after General Pervez Musharraf’s military coup in October 1999.
According to reports, on April 25, 2000, Federal Investigation Agency brought Ishaq Dar from jail and produced him before a district magistrate of Lahore where he made a confession under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code that the Sharif brothers used Hudaibiya Paper Mills as a cover for money laundering in the late 1990s.
Appearing before a five-member larger bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa in the Panamagate case, Shahid Hamid, the counsel for one of the respondents, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, said that allegations have been levelled against his client that he had confessed laundering money to the tune of $14.86 million.
Shahid Hamid argued that some allegations have also been surfaced against his client that he accused Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif of money laundering in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. He added there is also an allegation against Dar that he had confessed that on the instructions of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, he operated two foreign currency accounts in the name of Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi of Sharif family in the Bank of America.
Responding to a member of bench Justice Gulzar Ahmed who asked if his client denies the confession, the counsel for Dar replied in affirmative. Shahid Hamid apprised the bench that his client was asked to sign a pre-written statement after which he was arrested again. The counsel also read out Ishaq Dar’s statement: “After military coup, I was first kept under house arrest and then was offered to become a part of the government in return of the co-operation.”
Shahid Hamid informed the bench that army kept his client in confinement till 2001 after which he disclosed in an interview to a private TV channel that such confession was made under coercion. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed if the concerned magistrate of Lahore is unable to verify authenticity of the confession of Ishaq Dar then such statement would have no value.
Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa observed that the confession is not just a piece of paper but a part of evidence that remained unattended, saying that NAB reference in the matter was disposed of on grounds of technicalities. Justice Khosa further remarked as to why the NAB failed to challenge Lahore High Court’s verdict before the Supreme Court against the acquittal of Ishaq Dar in the matter.
He further observed that a two-member bench of the Lahore High Court heard an intra-court appeal whereas a five-judge bench normally hears such kind of matter. Shahid Hamid submitted that the NAB reference against his client was not maintainable on grounds that a two-member bench of the High Court disagreed to reinvestigate the matter, adding that double jeopardy is prevented under the Protection of Economic Reforms Act. Responding to a court’s query, Shahid Hamid submitted that his client was not member of the Parliament when the aforesaid Act was legislated.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed if the chairman NAB had invoked the apex court’s jurisdiction against the High Court verdict then the Supreme Court would have to issue directives for reinvestigation into the matter. Citing the apex court’s directions in former Chairman Ogra case, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said that nobody approached the apex court even then the Supreme Court had ordered a reinvestigation into the matter.
Shahid Hamid pleaded that army arrested his client on October 15, 1999 and kept him in prison for more than a year “where confession was made”. Justice Khosa categorically observed that the court will not give its verdict on people’s desires, saying instead of hearing the matter in hand slowly the court is examining the matter quite carefully and in accordance with law.
Earlier, Prime Minister’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan sought time till January 30 to submit documents pertaining to details of distribution of the late Mian Sharif’s property to heirs and about Sharif family’s gifts in pursuance of the court’s earlier directives.
Granting the time to the premier’s counsel, the bench adjourned the hearing in the matter till January 30.