My new article is published on the Newstribe website.
Please read, comment and share it.
To PTI supporters, PMLN have assigned their Media campaigner Fawad Khalid on The Newstribe blog. I think it is directed to counter my articles against the status quo and in particular against PMLN leadership. It is your duty to counter him, he has already written articles on the website to attack IK.
PML-N’s economic team
By Wajid Ali Khan - Mar 7th, 2013 (Comments (0))
PMLN leaders are buoyant from their perceived lead in the polls, conducted by a company which lists PMLN as one of their clients. In Pakistani talk shows, they were very Keen to beat the drums of their economic successes of the past. They boost their economic team has the experience to steer the country out of the economic quagmire created by the current PPP government . They claim, based on their past achievements they could change the fortunes of Pakistan.
The perceived economic achievements during their previous Federal Governments are up for debate and discussion; this could be subject of another article. The common wisdom tells us only credible and capable people could implement effective economic policies to change the fortune of Pakistan and its poor people. This article deals with credibility issues, next article would shade light on their capabilities.
Mr Ishaq Dar
Mr Dar served as finance minister in the last government of Nawaz Sharif. In recent years he had been involved in extensive negotiations with PPP leaders on some important decisions including the introduction of three amendments to the Constitution of Pakistan.Mr Dar first got the notoriety from the famous BBC documentary “from Pakistan to Park Lane”. The BBC documentary linked Mr Dar to the Qazi family in Illford Essex. For years the money laundering case against Sharifs is kept in the cold storage by NAB. The long delays to conclude the case by PPP government give rise to the accusations of “Muk Muka” between the two parties. Pakistanis eagerly awaits for the NAB to re-open the case.
I leave the issue of money laundering by the Sharifs on one side, the purpose of this article is to highlight the legality and morality of the acts directly attributed to Mr Dar in the documentary. BBC documentary gave two examples of alleged improprieties in which Mr Dar was directly involved. BBC documentary accused an account was opened in a local bank in Lahore with a fictitious name of Salman Zia. The documentary disclosed that the passport number 312783-S belonging to unfortunate Kashif Qazi was used to open the account for Salman Zia.
The documentary further alleged that bank accounts in the names of members of Qazi family were opened without their permission and knowledge. It added, members of Qazi family were not in Pakistan when the bank accounts in their names were opened. Both of these allegations could have serious implications for Mr Dar, whenever the money laundering case is taken up by the NAB.
The standards in public life have deteriorated so much in Pakistan that no cases were registered against the culprits involved in such unsavory acts having criminal implications. In any civilized country if you commit such acts, you would end up behind bars in no time. Unfortunately in Pakistan flinches rule and given undue and undeserved respect, while poor banish for years in prison as a punishment for minor misdemeanors.
Recently The Newstribes published a news story on the luxurious and flashy life styles of Mr Dar’s sons in Dubai. According to the article Ali Dar and Hasnain Dar through their HDS group owns numerous high rise buildings in Dubai. The elder brother Ali Dar is also a son-in-law of PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif.When Mr Dar was confronted with the evidence of the wealth amassed in Dubai by his sons, he came up with a novel excuse in his and his sons’ defense. He claimed for six years he had worked as financial adviser to the Royal family of the UAE, forming part of 40 years professional career as a Chartered Accountant.
Ishaq Dar said that he and his children have earned all their wealth through hard work and legitimate means, abiding by the laws of the concerned countries.Surprisingly or not surprisingly depending on your political affiliations, Mr Dar’s recent tax returns disclosed he paid a partly sum of Rs32, 750 as Income Tax.This disclosure naturally raises questions on the wealth amassed by Mr Ishaq Dar and his sons in Dubai. It also casts serious doubts on the accuracy and sincerity of the statement made by Mr Ishaq Dar to clarify sources of his income.
The fact is, two positions maintained by Mr Ishaq Dar are poles apart. If he and his sons have earned their money by legit means, as he claimed they have, then surely that wealth and income should have reflected in Mr Dar’s tax returns.The implications could be serious for Mr Ishaq Dar. He faces the possibility of facing tax evasion charges by Pakistani tax authorities. Mr Dar cannot maintain both positions simultaneously without grave consequences.He is answerable to Pakistani nation, he has to provide full details and sources of his earnings in the last two decades he had been involved in Pakistani politics. Secondly, he has to give details and explanations for the taxes he has paid in Pakistan over the years while accumulating and holding such great wealth according to his own admission.
At the moment Mr Dar is serving as a Senator in the upper house of the Parliament. Unfortunately, no one from the ECP has asked him the question, how his family could own high rise buildings in Dubai while he is paying peanuts in taxes!Pakistani nation should be mindful, Mr Ishaq Dar could be their finance minister if PMLN comes into power after the next general elections.
Pakistani nation should be under no illusions based on past evidence. Mr Dar failed to act against the BBC for airing the documentary. Naturally, any credible person should have taken legal action when facing serious allegations of fraud, impersonation and money laundering.Pakistanis have to decide do they want a person of such reputation to lead their already bruise and battered economy! A person who is reluctant to respond to serious allegations against him by an international broadcaster. A person who is holding on to his seat in the Senate because in Pakistan its constitution has not been followed properly in the selection of its parliamentarians.
Mr Khawaja Asif
In TV talk shows Mr Asif tries to display his proficiency in economic and financial issues. Reportedly, his perceived financial experience is limited to a low level job in a bank. Despite lack of significant experience, he still holds a key position within the PMLN economic team. He earned his notoriety looking after privatization affairs during the period he served under Nawaz’s regime. The secrets of the meteoric rise of the Sharif’s industrial empire lay in the way privatization was handled in Pakistan.
Successive regimes by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto were involved in undesirable activities in the privatization process.Mr Asif in his discussions regularly defends the wealth amassed by Sharif family and the businesses owned by Hasan Nawaz Sharif in the United Kingdom. To his shame, most of the information he relays is inaccurate, and his explanations lacks the expertise of a financial cognoscente. It is also very clear from the discussions, most of Pakistani anchors are at sea when it comes to using logic in financial exigency. Their lack of professional erudition to unlock the mysteries of the financial affairs of the Sharif family is all too apparent. If that was not the case, surely by now Pakistani nation should have known full grotty details of the wealth of both Sharif brothers and Zardari.
For Pakistanis shame, an American has once again taken a lead to expose the corruption of Sharifs in his books. To give weight to their point of view, Pakistani journalists quote the findings of a Raymond Baker’s book regularly, hiding their own inefficiencies and lack of professionalism. Sharifs once again have failed to sue Raymond despite denying the allegations of corruption made in the book.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand Sharifs and Dars’ reluctance to sue their accusers. Sometimes you end up chewing more than what you bargained.
The web of deceit is so complicated that unless you have an eye for the details and have experience investigating financial crimes, you bound to get lost in the maze of deception. Pakistani journalists lack the conversance and professionalism to perform investigative journalism needed to unravel the deceptions. Nonetheless, we expect better and plausible explanations from celebrated financial wizards like Mr Asif. After all he could be holding a very key position in the next government formed by PMLN.
In a Dunya News talk show on 13 December 2012, Mr Khawaja Asif was stumped from the details of taxes paid by Pakistani politicians. In response to a question from the host, Mr Asif responded, he agrees, in the next elections the voters should think twice before casting their votes in favor of those who are avoiding paying taxes despite their lavish lifestyles.Not surprisingly, when he was asked about non-payment of taxes by Sharif brothers. Mr Asif stuck to too often repeated excuse, between 2000/07 Sharifs were not resident in Pakistan, therefore, they didn’t pay any taxes.
In an earlier talk show on ARY, he presented two receipts of the same date showing different amounts paid in taxes by Nawaz Sharif. Despite constant inquiries by the presenter, Mr Asif failed to provide any justifications of the two amounts or identified the tax years. After watching the show, many in the alternative media raised the questions, pointing to the possibility that the receipts were not genuine.
A cursory look at Nawaz Sharif’s recent tax records reveals, in the last two tax years he has started to pay taxes on the the income he received from Chaudry Sugar Mills. This change of heart happened after 8 years nonpayment of taxes. Has he received income from the Mills during his exile years! If he had, he was still liable to pay taxes on the income generated in Pakistan. If he didn’t where did he earned his living! Did he pay any taxes anywhere in the world? The answers to all these questions probably would be a no. Hence, the puzzle is how had he lived like Kings for 8 years without any Income!
On other occasions Mr Asif had said, Nawaz Sharif was supported by his son Hasan, who is doing rather well in the UK. Counter to the explanations given by many PMLN leaders, a cursory look at the accounts of the companies headed by Hasan Nawaz Sharif in the UK reveal a rather different story.
The Auditor’s report for Flagship Investment Limited for the year ended 31 March 2011 reveals,
“In forming our opinion, which is not qualified, we have considered the adequacy of the disclosure made in note 1 of the financial statements concerning the ability of the company to continue as a going concern. The condition described in that note indicates the existence of a material uncertainty, which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
In my future article, I will expand on the contents of the note. Nonetheless, the auditors’ report clearly states that they sought clarifications and disclosures from the sole Director Hasan Nawaz. In the absence of such guarantees, the auditors were of the opinion there exists a material uncertainty about the company’s ability to conduct business as a going concern.
In other words, the companies run by Hasan in the UK are not doing so well. What surprises me and at times disappoints me is the fact that so many TV anchors have done hour long programs on this topic but the nation is not any wiser. Alas, such is the standard of Journalism in Pakistan, most of the presenters have no grasp of the topics they so eagerly discuss in their programs.The fact is Hasan companies are not paying any taxes for years. Hasan personally for years have not drawn any Director’s remuneration or received any dividends from the group of companies he operates in the UK. It begs the question, how did he survive for years! How did he support his father during those eight years! Most importantly, if Nawaz and Shahbaz had foreign incomes during the exile years, what happened to it now? What happened to the investment they had? How did they manage to accumulate foreing investments and assets?
Unfortunately, PMLN financial wizards are unable to answer such questions.It is for Pakistanis to decide, if they want such people to represent them who pay no taxes despite living lives of luxury. Many PMLN leaders instead of defending their own lifestyles from their declared incomes, try to defend the Sharifs in talk shows. They regularly make comments in defense of the Sharifs, which could only be made by either very ignorant and uneducated persons or by those who deliberately trying to mislead the public.
Until today, I have not seen one single PMLN leader who could answer the questions on the assets of Sharifs with any clarity, precision and confidence.
Mr Ishaq Dar himself faces serious questions about the huge wealth he and his family has amassed in the UAE. Mr Asif already admitted he has no wealth or income to speak of. Those who could not run their personal lives with proper financial discipline are making tall claims of having the experience to take Pakistan out of economic meltdown!
No wonder, PMLN has joined forces with PPP to attack Election Commission of Pakistan. Many leaders of the two parties fear they could be disqualified by ECP if rules and regulations are followed properly. PMLN leaders are mistaken to think their past deeds could be forgotten by clouding the issues in the mystery and secrecy.
The future of Pakistan is in the hands of its people. They should exercise their options with great care, this could very well be the last opportunity they have to steer the country on the right path. If they miss this opportunity to select their representatives wisely, the whole house of cards can tumble down. If they elect PMLN leaders to lead Pakistan, one thing is guaranteed, the results would be like their past tenures. In the next article I would look into the tall claims regularly made by PMLN leaders about their past performances.
In my opinion, Pakistan’s army wouldn’t stand on the sidelines and watch the destruction and looting of the country. PPP leaders were lucky, they had General Kiyani to thank, but PMLN may not be so lucky. The next COAS may not be so forgiving. Whatever path the army chooses in the event of PMLN forming the next government is down to the army, but one thing is certain the country cannot be burdened with the loot and mismanagement anymore.