Ishaq Dar Intentionally Lied Through His Teeth In BBC Interview
The disgraceful ineptitude recently displayed in answering straightforward questions by former finance minister Ishaq Dar, on BBC’s famous TV show ‘Hard Talk’ was rightly criticised on every forum. This interview was a moment of political jubilation for PTI as it shall perpetually haunt the House of Sharif. However, the following national discourse missed out on deciphering ‘why’ Dar attended the interview in the first place. Did Stephen Sackur just expose an ignorant person or did that bit just happen by chance while Dar spewed out unrelated rehearsed answers? What games is the dastardly trickster up to this time?
The interview badly exposed the manifestly shallow ‘medical grounds’ narrative used to perpetuate self-exile by the House of Sharif currently based in the UK and further revealed how Dar was unable to answer for his ill-gotten wealth and events surrounding alleged election rigging.
The Q&A reflected that Dar was not concerned with defending Nawaz when asked about his corruption exposed by Panama Papers. He exclaimed defiantly; “My name is not in Panama Papers” (and stopped there) refusing to provide any justification on his leader’s behalf. When grilled about accumulation of his personal assets, Dar after being perplexed and dumbfounded, just plain lied through his teeth.
Anyone with basic intellect could see right through his charade. The man is clearly at a point in his life where he couldn’t care less about what Pakistanis think of him. He has his millions abroad and his and his family’s personal freedom intact.
Sackur literally mocked Dar on pretending to be completely innocent of all charges and doubted that he was practically that sick that he could not travel to Pakistan to face the courts. Dar deflected and read from the (mental) script. He shrugged; “Human Rights! Where are the Human Rights in Pakistan” Voila! It’s not the first time a politician has done that. Dar basically went on to narrate that NAB was some draconian deep state institution that tortures and kills political opponents for kicks. Vague statements like there was a puppet fascist regime in place, zero democracy, Khan being out to get him, NAB will kill him, all is treacherous, inhumane and without human dignity is a commonplace smoke screen (mis)used to further such agendas. He was actually trying to make a base for attaining “indefinite leave to remain in UK” as a “political refugee” under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 whereby a member state (like UK) must protect those who “migrate from one state to another to escape persecution” if they satisfy a “particular criteria”.
This interview’s real agenda could’ve been an effort by Dar to somehow cement meeting that criterion. Legally, Article 7 of ICCPR 1966 which is enforced by the Human Rights Committee, states that “no one can be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment” and this prohibition is “absolute not allowing for derogation in any circumstances”. His words showcased intent to self-invoke the international legal “principle of refoulement” protected by The UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), at any desired future point, in UK courts. UK acceded to UNCAT by s.134 Criminal Justice Act 1988 and hence stands answerable to the Torture Committee responsible for enforcing the same.
Article 3 enshrines the basic principle that “a person cannot be returned or extradited to the country from which he fled”, if there are “substantial grounds or a real risk”, that he will be “subject to ill treatment/torture” that “breaches a certain level of severity”. UK’s answerability to international human rights law mechanisms further includes the entrenched regional multilateral HR effort by Europe (ECHR 1951) that was transposed into domestic UK law via Human Rights Act 1998. It declares cornerstone rights and duties applicable to members of the human family residing in UK. A study of the European Court of Human Right’s case-law (Soering v UK, Chahal v UK, Saadi v Italy) implementing ECHR shows that Article 3 (refoulement) works in such instances if the risk of returning is “high”, and Othman (Abu Qatada) v United Kingdom (2012) shows that “diplomatic assurances” that a government seeking return can give to have a fugitive from law returned may be “accepted only if assessed to be reliable”. Dar’s entire propaganda against Pakistani state was in lieu of manipulating these human rights institutions and agencies in his favour.
Intuitively speaking, Dar’s manifest bungling generated quite the hype and media frenzy but it is the objective behind it all that merits primary focus. He unequivocally decided to guard his own wealth. PDM has no direction or playbook to uproot PTI, which is why Dar did not bother to even prepare answers acceptable to the Pakistani citizenry and electorate. He wasn’t talking to us nor asking for our sympathy. He was too busy making sure he doesn’t have to come to Pakistan to face Pakistani courts. Importantly, his aloofness beyond self-preservation in itself exemplifies dwindling hegemonic control earlier exerted by Nawaz Sharif over his party comrades. Ishaq Dar – Nawaz’s closest of aides, secret book keeper and father-in-law to his daughter – let down elder Sharif in Hard Talk .
The writer has an LLM from Queen Mary University of London as a Chevening scholar. He studied political philosophy at University of Oxford, is a practising attorney and lecturer for the University of London (LLB) International Programme. He tweets at @majeedlashari