A day after BBC HARDTalk host Stephen Sackur grilled former finance minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ishaq Dar over his alleged assets, people on social media are calling out Pakistani anchorpersons over their failure to conduct such ‘hard hitting’ interviews for whatever reasons.
One journalist who remained the target of this criticism was Geo’s Hamid Mir, who hosts Capital Talk, a primetime TV show. The social media users claimed that if Dar was appearing on a Pakistan talk show he wouldn’t be having such a hard time, as most of these journalists are on the alleged payroll of these politicians.
One wrote: “Ishaq Dar thought BBC HardTalk was going to Geo Capital Talk and Stephen Sackur as shrewd as Hamid Mir I told you Stephen Sackur was going to skin Ishaq Dar and he did just that!”
Responding to critics, Hamid Mir tweeted that he also wanted to pose these questions to PML-N leader Ishaq Dar, but he cannot because Pakistani journalists/channels are not allowed to give coverage to Dar due to a Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) ban.
He also questioned the logic of this ban. He said the local media cannot interview Dar, but they can broadcast his interview given to BBC, what kind of ban is this?
DAR ON HARDTALK:
Dar, who is in a self-imposed exile after corruption cases were filed against him, appeared on BBC News to talk about corruption charges, PML-N fight against the government, and NAB.
During the show, the host asked Dar: “Is it your contention that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has no integrity? To this, Dar responded that NAB has lost its integrity. “It is an institution that has been used against political opponents.”
Dar said the prime allegation in the Panama Papers Joint Investigation Team report on which the Supreme Court directed NAB to file a reference against him was that he didn’t file his tax returns in Pakistan for 20 years i.e. 1981-2001. Dar said as a chartered account, he had never missed filing his tax returns while living in the UK and North America, as he called these “blatant allegations”.
At this the host asked Dar about the number of properties owned by his family. The PML-N leader responded, “It’s all in my tax returns.”
Upon the insistence of the host, he said: “I have my main residence in Pakistan which has been taken over by this regime… I haven’t got too many properties.”
“How many properties do you and your family own,” the host asked him again. At this, Dar said: “One.” At this, the show host asked him about the news reports in the Pakistan press that claim that the former PML-N minister owned multiple properties in and outside Pakistan. “You are sitting in London and you don’t own anything here,” the host asked Dar.
Dar responded that he doesn’t own any property in London or anywhere else as claimed by the media reports.
However, he went on to admit that his sons recently acquired a villa in Dubai. “They are adult and are in the business for the past 17 years,” he clarified.
Dar, 69, is currently in London, “undergoing medical treatment”. He is absconding from several cases in Pakistan since 2017 and has been declared a proclaimed offender by the courts. He is facing charges of accumulating assets beyond known sources of income.