Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday said that the confessional statement of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, given to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) during Musharraf’s regime, was obtained under duress and that he himself was a witness of the torture faced by Dar.
“Being a political worker I don’t think that it would be decent for me to describe my ordeal and what I faced when I was imprisoned, particularly after Musharraf’s coup in October, 1999. But I want to mention that Dar was held at his house till Feb, 2000, and subjected to interrogation multiple times during this period,” Asif said while talking to Geo News TV on Thursday.
“On February 11, 2000, we were shifted to Chanba House and later transported to Attock Fort,” he added.
Ishaq Dar had submitted a confessional statement regarding money laundering before the magistrate on April 25, 2000.
Allegations against Dar claim he had admitted to money laundering of $14.86 million, and opening two bank accounts under the names of Sikandar Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi for Nawaz Sharif’s brother.
Asif claimed that during the course of interrogations and detentions, several employees of Ittefaq Foundry were also kept along with them in detention centres.
“These employees were also subjected to torture and we used to listen their screams till late in the night.”
“When they were tortured to reveal information about the businesses of Ittefaq Foundry, they put all the blame on Ishaq Dar. As a result, the investigators used to torture Dar more,” said Asif.
Asif recalled, “On the morning of February 8 or 9, 2000, I met him [Dar], he had lost more than 30 pounds of weight.”
The minister is of the view that Dar was a professional, not a political worker, “so forcing him into issuing a statement was not a big deal”.
He praised Dar for facing immense pressure for a considerable duration of time. “I do believe Dar showed steadfastness and tackled the pressure well.”
“He was detained for 23 months,” Asif said, adding that later it was proved that the statements were taken under duress.
“I was imprisoned in a 4 by 6 feet cell, in solitary confinement,” he said. “The confessional statements were taken under such conditions.”
“No one was able to bear the pressure Dar was facing.”
“A person always used to point a gun at us, even when we went to do ablution or for a walk. Dar was among those who were subjected to this extreme psychological torture,” Khuwaja said.