Defends his criticism of top officials
Former finance minister Ishaq Dar has defended his party leader Nawaz Sharif’s criticism of senior officials of the Pakistan Army, saying he is not an “anti-military” politician.
“I think there seems to be confusion,” Dar said, when the host of BBC’s Hardtalk programme asked him about Sharif’s criticism of the military establishment.
“Mr Nawaz Sharif as prime minister or otherwise is not anti-military,” he said.
“He blames certain individuals and as I said the buck you know stops at the top.”
Dar, who has been declared an absconder by Pakistani courts in corruption cases, has been in London for almost three years on account of his medical treatment.
Sharif, his close friend and the party leader, has twice been jailed by the Pakistani courts. But he was allowed to go to London in November 2019 on medical grounds. He hasn’t returned to Pakistan since.
The former three-time prime minister has been criticizing top military officials at public rallies after Pakistani opposition parties formed an alliance — the Pakistan Democratic Movement — against the government in September 2020.
The PDM, an eleven-party alliance, has held several rallies in Pakistan with Sharif among the key speakers at some events. At one such rally, he had directly held Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI DG Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed responsible for bringing Prime Minister Imran Khan to power.
Dar also believes that Sharif was ousted from power because he was fighting for “supremacy of democracy” and “supremacy of parliament”.
“We must be fair to analyze things,” he told BBC’s Stephen Sackur. “The election was stolen.
“It started off from Dawn Leaks. Mr Sharif has been struggling for the supremacy of democracy, for supremacy of parliament and I have been struggling for fiscal discipline and transparency,” Dar said, questioning, “Is it wrong?”
The former minister said he expects the UK to support the PML-N campaign for “holding democratic values”.
“I mean the UK has been holding democracy and the democratic values,” Dar said. “We would think that you would be supporting us.”
To support his point that the 2018 elections were rigged, Dar gave the example of Pakistan Interior Minister Ijaz Shah’s recent interview. He quoted Shah as saying that Sharif would have become the prime minister for the fourth time if he had not had issues with the deep state.
The former finance minister said the National Accountability Bureau has lost its credibility a long time ago because “it is an institution which is used against political opponents”.
“In Pakistan over a period of 73 years, the corruption rhetoric has been used in the last few dictatorships and the current one isn’t different because this regime in known to be under a covert coup or a judicial martial law,” he added.
When asked how many properties does he or his family own, Dar said he had only one property in Pakistan and his sons have a villa.
“It’s all declared in my tax returns,” he said. “I have my main residence in Pakistan which has been taken over by you know this regime.”
The minister, however, said the villa is owned by his sons and they are independent.
“My sons just have one villa which is owned by them. They are in business for last 17 years,” he said.
“They are adults. They are married…17 years they are in business so they are independent of me.”
Dar denied fleeing Pakistan in order to get away from corruption cases against him. He said his lawyers appear before the courts in Pakistan and he is in the UK for medical treatment because he has a cervical issue.
The minister claimed that NAB was being used against him because “Mr. Sharif was fighting for civil supremacy and I have always been fighting for the financial and fiscal discipline and transparency”.
Shibli Faraz, the minister for information in PM Khan’s government, said the top leaders of the PML-N can’t speak the truth even if they want to.
“I haven’t seen the program and I don’t need to see the program because I know what question was asked and what the answer would be,” Faraz said, while commenting on Dar’s interview.
“Who told him to go to a show such as HARDtalk and insult himself?”