ISLAMABAD - Another prosecution witness appeared before the Accountability Court (AC) Islamabad in corruption reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and the court rose for the day with the direction to prosecution to summon two more witnesses on October 18.

Following the recording of statement of prosecution witness, Tariq Javed, vice-president at Al-Baraka Bank, the defence counsel Khawaja Haris advocate cross-examined the witness.

On a number of occasions, the prosecution lawyer objected to the queries of Khawaja Haris to the witness as irrelevant but the court ruled out the objections. The court before adjournment in the case directed the prosecution to call two more witnesses including Masoodul Ghani of Habib Bank and Abdul Rehman Gondal on the next date of hearing for testimony.

Earlier in the morning when the court took up the case, junior defence counsel Kauseen Faisal Mufti submitted that defence counsel was busy in Supreme Court and sought break till 12 in the day when he would be free from the AC.

He at the same time moved an application seeking exemption from presence in person of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for the day because of his pressing engagement in the finance ministry. But the court turned down the plea on the grounds that the accused should be present at the time of prosecution witnesses’ testimony before the court. The finance minister after announcement of break till 12 in the day left the court to attend to his ministry’s engagement and returned back by 12 noon to become part of the court proceedings. Judge M Bashir recorded the statement of Al-Baraka Bank Senior Vice President Tariq Javed, who had also appeared in the previous hearing.

Khawaja Harris, the counsel for the minister, cross-examined the NAB witness. Ishaq Dar had arrived at the court at around 9am and left soon after the hearing was postponed. Out of the total 28 prosecution witnesses, so far three witnesses have appeared before the court. At the last hearing that continued for around eight hours, Tariq Javed and Shahid Aziz of the National Investment Trust (NIT) had testified against the finance minister. Aziz said that the minister had invested Rs120 million in the NIT in 2015 but withdrew the amount after the Supreme Court took up the Panama Papers case in January 2017.  Javed also got his statement recorded and provided details of Dar’s five accounts, belonging to two of his companies and his wife.

According to the NAB reference, the accused had acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his name or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million as per the investigation conducted so far. The assets are disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for.

Meanwhile, the court will indict former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retired) Muhammad Safdar in graft references on October 19.

The court had already separated the cases of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz Sharif for wilfully absconding the court proceedings and directed the prosecution to initiate the process of declaring them proclaimed offenders. Sharif and his sons have been nominated in all the three references, while Maryam Nawaz and her spouse were nominated in the Avenfield apartments commonly known as London flats case.