Like Nawaz, like Dar

A ‘shelterless’ shelter at fugitive’s house

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 03:20 PM, 8 Feb, 2020
Like Nawaz, like Dar

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar, a close relative of three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is facing the same situation during the PTI rule which Mr Sharif had faced during the Musharraf rule some two decades ago. However, the reasons are totally different.

Mr Sharif’s H-Block Model Town residence had been declared a shelter home when his family was banished to Saudi Arabia in December 2000 for 10 years.

Ishaq Dar’s spacious house in Gulberg, Lahore, has now been converted into shelter home by the Punjab government.

“We have established a Panahgah (shelter home) at Ishaq Dar’s house we confiscated in the light of the court orders,” an official said.

Twenty beds were shifted to the new shelter home on Saturday which the Punjab chief minister will inaugurate on Sunday.

On July 27 last year, the Lahore city district government had taken possession of Mr Dar’s house after the National Accountability Bureau seized all his movable and immovable assets on the basis of a corruption reference.

The government had initially planned to auction the house but could not do so after the Islamabad High Court issued a stay order on a petition of Mr Dar’s wife, who argued that the house was her property as her husband had gifted this at the time of wedding.

The Dars plan to take the matter to court.

Whatever the ultimate fate of the property, its conversion into a shelter home has added another similarity between Dar and Nawaz Sharif.

Dar’s son Ali is married to Sharif’s daughter Asma – and are thus Samdhis.

The two have been working together during the PML-N rules. Dar, a chartered accountant, served as finance minister when Nawaz Sharif was the country’s chief executive.

The former finance minister has been living in London for the past several years and local courts have declared him absconder because of his failure to appear before them in cases pending against him. The government has approached even Interpol to bring him back to Pakistan but so far there’s no progress on this front.

For the orphans and destitute living at the Sharifs’ residence during the Musharraf era was a unique experience. They did not know – now could even imagine – that they are living in rooms where the families of former prime minister and chief minister used to live.

This was the best manifestation of the Nature’s system. The poorest of the poor were enjoying stay at the rulers’ palaces.

On the other hand the original residents of these places (Sharifs) had never thought that after migrating from India to Pakistan, they would rule the Islamic Republic in highest positions, and then exiled to Saudi Arabia where they would be royal guests.

The Sharifs stayed at Saroor Palace (Jeddah) for some seven years.

Benazir Bhutto also stayed out of Pakistan during the major part of Gen Musharraf’s rule.

She returned to Pakistan before the 2007 elections in what Musharraf said in violation of the agreement reached through US mediation.

Her return to Pakistan provided the Sharifs a justification to seek permission to return home.

The Saudi authorities told Gen Musharraf that after Benazir’s return to Pakistan they were not in a position to keep the Sharifs in KSA anymore.

This is how the Sharifs returned to Pakistan. The guests at the Sharifs’ shelter home were shifted elsewhere, clearing the place for actual owners.

However, Sharifs preferred to live in their Jati Umra residences, some 25 kilometres away from the city, as they were more luxurious than the Model Town residences constructed many decades before.

It may be pointed out that there are 11 shelter homes in Lahore Division, eight in Bahawalpur Division, five in DG Khan Division, 16 in Faisalabad Division, 10 in Gujranwala Division, eight in Multan Division five in Rawalpindi Division and 24 in Sargodha Division.

The residents of these homes are provided with food and other necessities of life.

How long will the shelter home at Dar’s house be used by the new inmates, and whether the former finance minister will get the property back will be clear as and if he returns to Pakistan.