ISLAMABAD: A day after a report by a digital media outlet accused army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his family of amassing assets worth Rs12.7 billion over the past six years, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar termed the news report a violation of “complete confidentiality of tax information” as provided by the law and promised a swift investigation.

The report cited tax records and wealth statements of the Bajwa family to corroborate its claims about the alleged accumulation of assets by the family inside and outside Pakistan.

While announcing a probe into the data leak from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Mr Dar directed the prime minister’s special assistant on revenue, Tariq Mehmood Pasha, to lead the investigation into the “violation of tax law(s) and breach of FBR data, affix responsibility, and submit a report within 24 hours”.

Aside from the press release issued by the finance ministry, there has been no statement by the army spokesperson or any other relevant authority on the report regarding assets allegedly owned by Gen Bajwa and his family.

Media outlet alleges army chief and his family accumulated assets worth Rs12.7bn over six years

‘Billions accumulated’

The Bajwa family accumulated billions of rupees in the form of assets and businesses inside and outside Pakistan during the last six years, FactFocus alleged in its report on Sunday. The news report, which unveiled “tax records” of Gen Bajwa’s family, claimed that the current market value of the known assets and business of the army chief, both within and outside Pakistan, were over Rs12.7 billion.

It also shared the alleged wealth statements of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021 to corroborate its claims. The website alleged that the assets of Gen Bajwa’s wife, Ayesha Amjad, went from zero in 2016 to Rs2.2 billion (declared and known) in six years. The report claimed the amount didn’t include residential plots, commercial plots, and houses given by the army to her husband.

The website also alleged that the total worth of the declared assets of Mahnoor Sabir – Gen Bajwa’s daughter-in-law – jumped from zero in the last week of October 2018 to Rs1,271 million on Nov 2, 2018, while the assets of Mahnoor’s sister Hamna Naseer allegedly went from zero in 2016 to “billions” by 2017.

Furthermore, the tax returns of Sabir Hameed — the army chief’s son’s father-in-law — were less than a million in 2013 but “in the coming years, he became a billionaire”, the website claimed. According to the publication, it was unable to obtain data regarding assets in the name of Gen Bajwa’s two sons.

After its report was published, FactFocus claimed that the traffic on its website was “disrupted” while the website had been also been blocked in Pakistan. However, by the time this report went to press, the website was operational.

FactFocus has previously published in-depth stories on the “misappropriation of funds” by a number of politicians and other powerful sectors in Pakistan, including PTI chairman Imran Khan, former ISPR chief Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, and former dictator General Pervez Musharraf.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2022

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