[FACTS DISCUSSED] Was Stephen Sackur unprepared for his interview with Ishaq Dar in BBC Hardtalk?
What do you think?
Stephen Sackur was absolutely unprepared for his interview of Ishaq Dar in BBC Hardtalk.
Stephen Sackur, who is generally known for grinding his guests, seemed a bit off-color when he didn’t follow up his main questions with appropriate counter questions. He also didn’t factually refute some of Ishaq Dar’s tall claims about his assets or his performance as finance minister.
Dar was in fact given several free passes by Stephan which allowed him to say whatever he wanted about NAB, Pak Army, and the PTI government.
Here, we’ll take a brief look at some of the instances where Dar should have been intercepted by Stephan in the interest of fairness and clarity:
1. When Dar said, I only own just one property, Stephen should have brought up the Ehtesab Court record which says Dar owns multiple houses and plots in Lahore and Islamabad in addition to several foreign properties. Dar and his wife also own Land cruisers (3) and Mercedes Benz (2).
Interestingly, Dar’s residential house which he himself claimed to own is actually “orally gifted to his wife as per Muslim Law” (is that even a thing?) in his 2020 return filed with the ECP. However, his wife ina petition to Islamabad High Court claimed that the house has been gifted to her since 1989 while the actual land record still shows Dar as the sole owner.
They are just toying with the system to avoid confiscation and auction by NAB which was ruled by the Ehtesab court in 2017, and it actually worked as the IHC issued a stay order on the auction earlier in 2020.
2. When Dar claimed a dozen people have been killed in NAB custody (virtually!), Stephan should have told him that the current NAB chairman was chosen by the current opposition (PMLN+PPP) and several people who allegedly died in NAB custody were arrested during his party’s govt.
Besides, how fair is that to blame NAB for someone dying of natural causes or taking his own life? By that logic, can we blame the Ministry of Finance for poor people committing suicide because of hunger or unemployment?
Also important to note that, both PPP and PMLN used NAB freely against each other to their advantage.
They often handpicked corrupt people as NAB chairman (Fasih Bokhari, Qamar Zaman Ch, etc) and never tried to quash it despite their majority in NA and Senate.
3. When Dar cited FAFEN as a “global” organization as a reference for elections transparency, Stephen should have corrected him because FAFEN is based in Pakistan and not a global organization.
Dar also quoted FAFEN to have reported rigging on 35 seats which is something never reported by the FAFEN and in fact, FAFEN observed significant improvements in 2018 and overall declared 2018 elections to be
better conducted than in 2013.
Moreover, PMLN has not filed a single petition either in court or ECP against rigging as opposed to 2013 when 14 political parties (including current PMLN allies) made a case of election fraud and rigging against PMLN in front of a Judicial Commission.
4. When Dar implied that General Bajwa (and some other military individuals) rigged election or subverted democracy in Pakistan, Stephen should have asked him who picked General Bajwa in 2016?
Or even Gen Raheel Sharif before Gen Bajwa? And more importantly, if Gen Bajwa is so evil why did Dar’s party vote for his 3 years’ extension? Stephan did well to mention Gen Zia and Nawaz Sharif’s hypocrisy but he could have also mentioned the strictly late-night affairs of Shehbaz Sharif (and Ch Nisar) with different army generals including Gen Kiani and Gen Raheel Sharif.
Maryam and Nawaz Sharif’s spokesperson, Muhammad Zubair’s recently disclosed meetings with Gen Bajwa probably to uphold civilian supremacy should have been questioned as well.
5. When Dar was boasting about double revenue collection, stable currency or highest GDP growth, Stephen should have insisted him to boast about the tallest debt mountain, lowest exports, biggest current account deficit, and burning billions of dollars in the market to keep the dollar at 100 as well.
A special mention of the FBR figures fudging over the years and holding tax refund to show exaggerated revenue performance was also in order.
In fact, Dar has the distinction of getting exposed at the IMF level for numbers fraud which resulted in a financial penalty as well as international embarrassment for Pakistan on multiple occasions.
There’s a lot more that can be said about the ‘darned’ interview but this should be enough to set the record straight and people wondering about Stephan Sackur being unprepared for this encounter should get a definite answer – Yes!
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