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Thursday, December 1, 2022
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EditorialAsset leaks and way forward

Asset leaks and way forward

First things first: a clarification or explanation should be provided on behalf of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa regarding the report made public by a digital media website that details the assets Gen Bajwa and his family have amassed over the last six years, totalling Rs12.7 billion. We can wait for the findings of the investigation, which was started by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who referred to the news report as a breach of the law’s requirement for “full secrecy of tax information” and pledged a prompt investigation. The report provides information about the homes and banks that Gen Bajwa’s family owns and manages, so nothing is shocking in it. The report’s assertions regarding the family’s alleged acquisition of assets both inside and outside Pakistan were supported by tax returns and wealth statements belonging to the Bajwa family. The family’s assets have been listed and are documented, which is a good thing since they can help with money trials since the father-in-law of Gen Bajwa’s son is a real estate magnate and so far, his name hasn’t been connected to any dodgy deals. Families of active-duty or retired army officers shouldn’t be barred from operating a business and legally making money. The nation needs an increasing number of businesses.

Mr Dar instructed Tariq Mehmood Pasha, the prime minister’s special assistant on revenue, to oversee the investigation into the violation(s) of tax laws and breach of FBR data, assign responsibility, and submit a report within a day. This was done while announcing a probe into the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) data leak. According to the website run by journalist Ahmed Noorani, the Bajwa family amassed billions of rupees in the last six years in the form of properties and businesses both inside and outside of Pakistan. Fact Focus disclosed the family of Gen Bajwa’s tax returns from 2013 to 2021. Over Rs12.7 billion is the current market value of the army chief’s known holdings and businesses, both inside and outside of Pakistan.

How the family’s assets increased from zero in 2016 to Rs2.2 billion in just six years needs to be explained.

Ahmed Noorani, the journalist who wrote the story, has been living in self-imposed exile for many years. This does not help the nation’s reputation. Journalists should feel secure in Pakistan. FactFocus said that after the publication of its study, traffic to its website had been disrupted and that Pakistan had also barred access to the website. MinuteMirror, however, determined that the claim was untrue because the website is active.

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