Finance Minister Ishaq Dar pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to owning assets beyond his means, an official from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said, amid a corruption investigation into former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The Supreme Court in July disqualified Nawaz for not declaring a small source of income and ordered an investigation of the ruling family and Dar.
“Dar told the court that he was innocent and he will prove that his assets are legitimate,” Jan Achakzai, a PML-N official said.
Dar did not speak to the media after his appearance in court in Islamabad but has dismissed all the allegations against him.
“The court illegally indicted Dar, which is why no lawyers or media persons were allowed to enter,” Express News quoted Secretary Supreme Court Bar Aftab Bajwa as saying.
The court directed prosecution to begin producing witnesses on October 4, which has been set as the next date of hearing.
Issuing copies of the reference and other material, Judge Muhammad Bashir on Monday said, “The court intends to conduct daily hearings in the reference, so that the trial is concluded within the stipulated time of six months.”
The court, meanwhile, turned down a request of the defence lawyer for more time to frame charges [indictment] on the ground that “bulk of the record has to be perused in a brief period of time”.
Judge Bashir quipped, “Will you plead guilty when charges would be framed?” implying that Dar would definitely plead not guilty and stand trial.
“[A lot of] time has already been wasted,” the judge added. “The court has to conclude the trial within six months as per the Supreme Court’s directions.”
Nawaz has also denied any wrongdoing and has been critical of the judiciary, calling the corruption proceedings against him a conspiracy.
Dar was credited with steering the country’s economy to a sounder footing following a 2013 balance of payments crisis but over the past year those economic gains have begun to erode, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and analysts.