Pakistani court indicts finance minister on graft charges

A Pakistani court has indicted the country's finance minister on graft charges, following investigators finding his assets out of proportion to his income.

State media report that Ishaq Dar was present in the courtroom yesterday when a judge read the charges against him, which Dar denied.

Dar can continue to work as a minister until he is found guilty, but opposition leaders have called for his resignation on moral grounds.

Dar has close familial ties with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who, the Supreme Court disqualified from holding office for concealing his financial assets in July.

Dar's indictment comes only a day after Sharif's first appearance before a judge to face corruption cases.

Meanwhile, Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah yesterday said that the charges filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against finance minister Ishaq Dar had no legal basis, and termed them a 'joke'.

In an interaction with journalists, he said the finance minister received salaries from private and multinational companies amounting to millions of rupees.

''In its 70-year history, the Supreme Court never formed a Joint Investigation Team,'' the provincial minister added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice president Shah Mehmood Qureshi has called for immediate resignation of Dar.

Also, Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rasheed said that Dar is trouble due to the ongoing NAB investigations against him.

He added that the decision on the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case will come in the next few days. According to commentators, the case is related to alleged money laundering by the Sharif family, including Dar.

''They have destroyed democracy in the country, for some wealth is more important than respect,'' Rasheed remarked, www.pakistantoday.com reported.

NAB submitted a list of 28 witnesses, which it will start producing in court at the next hearing on 4 October.