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Army Chief’s family ‘earned billions’ during his tenure: Report

Islamabad: The government of Pakistan has ordered an investigation into the ‘illegal and unwarranted’ leak of Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s family members’ tax records after a Pakistani website claimed that during his six-year tenure, his family members and relatives became billionaires and amassed assets totaling 12.7 billion. The supposed wealth declarations of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021 were released on the FactFocus website, which identifies itself as a ‘Pakistan-based digital media news organisation focused on data-based investigative news stories’.

The current market value of the known assets and business of the army chief, both within and outside Pakistan, was reported to be 12.7 billion in the report regarding the alleged tax records of Gen Bajwa’s family. The report stated that Ayesha Amjad, Gen Bajwa’s wife, increased her assets from zero in 2016 to 2.2 billion (declared and known) in six years. This was done ahead of Gen Bajwa’s scheduled retirement later this month. According to the document, the sum did not include the homes, businesses, and lots that the Army had given her husband.

The assets of Mahnoor Sabir, Gen Bajwa’s daughter-in-law, allegedly increased from $0 in the final week of October 2018 to $1,271 million on November 2, 2018, while those of Hamna Naseer, Mahnoor’s sister, allegedly increased from nothing in 2016 to ‘billions’ by 2017. Sabir Hameed, the Army chief’s son-in-law, had tax returns worth less than $1 million in 2013, but the website said that ‘in the subsequent years, he became a millionaire’.

After the tax and wealth information for Gen Bajwa’s family members was made public online by the website on Monday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar commissioned an investigation. Dar was informed of the ‘illegal and unjustified release of tax information of the family members of General Qamar Javed Bajwa,’ according to a statement. In the statement, he was cited as adding, ‘This is certainly violative of the entire secrecy of tax information that the Law provides’.

According to the minister, he directed Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha to personally lead an immediate investigation into the violation of tax law and breach of Federal Bureau of Revenue data, appoint responsibility, and submit a report within 24 hours in light of ‘this serious lapse on the part of to-date unknown functionaries the Finance minister.’  The Army has yet to respond to the Fact Focus report.

 

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