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Election campaigns are approaching and coincidentally not one, but two troubles have unexpectedly sprung up into the hands of the ruling party as well as lawmakers belonging to all parties.

First came a report from a study entitled “Representation without Taxation” by investigative journalist Umar Cheema. According to the report, more than 60 per cent of Pakistan’s cabinet and two thirds of its federal lawmakers paid little or no tax last year, despite an estimated average net wealth of $882,000.

The report says, “According to the findings, President Asif Ali Zardari did not file a tax return in 2011 and neither did 34 of the 55 cabinet members including Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Of the 20 cabinet ministers who did pay, most made only negligible contributions, including Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, with 142,536 rupees ($1,466) and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar with 69,619 rupees ($716). The cabinet member who paid the most was state minister for commerce, Abbas Khan Afridi, who paid 11.5 million rupees last year ($118,677). Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah paid the least with 43,333 rupees ($446).”

Are these appalling figures justifiable in any way for the so-called system of democracy in Pakistan and its people? Is this not a shameful revelation for the Pakistani public who votes them into power and then depends on them for lawmaking, and even a bigger embarrassment in the eyes of the nations, whom we go back to begging for loans?

Another report revealed further more, “President Asif Ali Zardari also did not file tax returns. Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim does not even possess a national tax number (NTN). Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, who had recently announced $1 million head money for an Egyptian-American producer of a blasphemous film, did not pay income tax.” Is the former FBR chairman, Riyaz Hussain Naqvi, quoted in the report correct when he states, “This is a system of the elite, by the elite, and for the elite.”?

Next up came a blatant statement by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari that the country was losing up to Rs7 billion to corruption each day. According to this report, “The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) believed that the NAB chief’s statement was quite damaging for the ruling coalition, particularly because the general election was approaching fast, sources said. That was why the cabinet meeting on Wednesday saw a heated debate on the issue.”

Isn’t it time that the PPP does in fact take blame for all the rightful faults that are being pointed out if proven true? If even after nearly four years the ruling party cannot get their act together and accept their mistakes and promise a commitment for improvement then do they have a right to still show their face?

Then there was a fight back by none other than Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, calling all the various barrage of corruption allegations ‘a deliberate and vicious media campaign against the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.’ “Yes, there is corruption, like any other country of the developing world, but to put its entire blame on the federal government or for that matter on the PPP is absolutely unjustifiable,” he said in reply to a question. He said the PPP had been targeted with similar campaigns in the past, but it bounced back by winning more votes.

Do Kaira’s assertions hold true in the year 2012 and more importantly will they hold true in the year 2013 – the election year?

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Comments (25) Closed

pakistan123 Dec 14, 2012 05:41am
they must pay tax as they are beneficiaries..public should as they are the victims.
Syed A Hasnat Dec 14, 2012 05:17pm
These revelations have shocked the country although most of already know the truth. Imran Khan is the best hope for the country
Karl Menezes Dec 14, 2012 10:46am
70% do not pay tax means 30% actually did pay some tax. Remarkable. Did not think we had so many "conscientious" cabinet members.
atif Dec 14, 2012 02:36pm
it is true about all the ruling elite. so i am not going to burn my vote, because they will get many votes by again applying the tool of corruption they are very good at, rather i am certainly going to find someone to whom i can trust, if not totally then a bit more may be. i dont have any faith in the 2big gangs and their offsprings. they are the same people who sunk the aspirations of the people by engaging into the lust for power on 16dec1971. i am not a political gag but i rate imran khan or musharaf much higher than them as i cant see that they were ever involved into such things. as of musharaf no one still can point out finger on him, although i admit people under his very nose were involved into such things and he was not able to contain them, thats the reason imran khan is option no. 1
Usman Khan Dec 15, 2012 01:11am
Very easy fix... confiscate all their properties and put them in jail... They belong there seriously... Even the holiest than thou chief justice promoted his son against merit... anybody listening?
ahmed Dec 14, 2012 11:28pm
We should not blame them, these people are just reflection of our society. BTW other segments of society especially government servant are more corrupt, inefficient and morally sunk.
Asghar Hassan Dec 14, 2012 07:44am
We should only be speechless if we did not know this fact. We all know and have known this about our lawmakers and politicians no matter which party they belong to. This is shameful for all of us whether we voted them into power or not. God save this country! But God would only do that if we have the Niyat to do something about it ourselves. :-)
Pakman Dec 14, 2012 07:46am
We are not ready for democracy, low literacy rate, Agrarian society, with landlords, Jirgas, tribal system, religious intolerance, penchant for corruption. May Allah help us!
shahidmasud12 Dec 14, 2012 06:25am
The only reason Pakistan was created is to give it's elite class a chance to plunder it's national wealth. We have corrupt politics / politicians , corrupt army , corrupt judiciary , corrupt executive , corrupt administration and a corrupt system. All these people weather they are politicians , generals , judges etc are not imported from India , they all are a part of the same Pakistani society that we all live in. Yes we as a nation and as a society are corrupt.
mehboob malik Dec 14, 2012 05:42am
Although it is shameful but i admit that the whole Pakistani nation is corrupt. We are all corrupt at every level. There is no angel exist among us. :(
sja Dec 14, 2012 05:45am
You say Representation without taxation, the way PPP democracy works is Public Administration with lots of EVASION. Kaira as a minister can only cite QURBANIS OF PPP and NOT THE AMASS OF WEALTH in 40 years. They said in America that the democracy is of the people for the people and by the people, In Pakistan the democracy is of the PPP, by the PPP and for the PPP( office bearers). I rest my case unless people come in between the Government and the PEOPLE we will always have democary of the PPP for the PPP and by the PPP(office bearers). God help all of US PAKISTANIS and give us ROTI, KAPRA and MAKRAN. PPP gives nothing but keeps all the riches and that is the record of its 40 years wealth accumulation without taxation..
Farooq Ali Dec 14, 2012 07:44am
In situations as above inside out is a must regardless of the fact whether it is PPP or any other party it is a fact that we are a corrupt society where money is paid for every thing to be done, so it will be great for our leaders to admit frankly that we are a sick society infested with corruption and we need immediate remedy come what may.
Scales9 Dec 14, 2012 03:39am
Kaira is running out of steam to defend his government's corruption !!
m.johri Dec 14, 2012 01:05am
All these shameless corrupt tax evading politician have proved to be cancer for democracy in Pakistan.There will be never any kind of democracy in Pakistan as long as these politicians along with families will come in to power by using black money , dirty means and illegal methods.Good God they will advance all kind of arguments to discredit military rule in Pakistan though law and order situation has been better and people well off when ever army ruled the country.It's interesting to see on what grounds "election commission" let these politicion contest the general election.
r.s.soni Dec 14, 2012 10:12am
sir, i am surprised at Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira's statement when zardari is not filing income tax return, how media is to be blamed?as they were not filing income tax return, they won the previous election , they will win this election.also. i think minister is living in fool's paradise pakistani higher ups will not pay income tax till they are kicked. i call upon my pakistani brothers and sisters to give befitting reply to Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira by kicking them out in next general election. those who don't pay income tax they are scoundrels of highest order
Cyrus Howell Dec 14, 2012 11:21am
When officials and businessmen can refuse subpoenas to appear in court there is no government.
Shan Dec 13, 2012 11:22pm
They cannot take the money to the grave.... They surely will go to the grave..... They will have to answer to farista no bribing there.
Hello1 Dec 13, 2012 04:25pm
I am speechless. No comment is the only possible comment!
Fazal Dec 13, 2012 07:38pm
put tax on lanlord. Arrest those people who live lavishly and pay no or little tax.Very easy. Tax evasion is the most important issue till today Spreme court did give a single penalty to tax evader. Supreme court doing nothing better for the country in long term. and this nation clap foolishly on all soho moto decision
nomi Dec 13, 2012 04:33pm
With PPP and PML-N there is no future of this country. Both the parties had their chances and I think it is the time we should kick these elites out and get someone who can challenge the status quo.
Riaz Dec 14, 2012 11:35am
Only a fool will expect any change of tack from ignorant and inept electorate of Pakistan. If one is to face the reality; corruption is an established norm that has nested deep in each and every nook and corner of Pakistani culture and society. Pakistan has become a grave yard of ethics and morality; virtues of honesty, merit and intellect have been rendered obsolete and worthless by this very society. Law and law enforcement has been converted in to a commodity, freely traded in the open market by all and sundry. You can't blame the politicians alone when the fish is rotting both from the head and from the tail. You must live in a dream world If you believe your current political leaders will do something for you, they did not come in to politics for your benefit. If the problem was just political corruption, solution can be found through reforms; but when the society has become equally corrupt than revolution alone will solve the problem.
Muhammad Anwaar Dec 13, 2012 05:32pm
well this minister is seem to be very innocent my God
Zishi Dec 13, 2012 05:11pm
You are considered as a fool if you pay all your taxes in Pakistan. The example is set by our elite and politicians who think that they are exempt from paying taxes. Corrupt and Incompetent, that's what they are! I request all Pakistanis to think twice before they vote in the next elections.
Touseef Dec 13, 2012 05:15pm
I am speechless but I wont be voting for these scum bags i would rather burn my vote or give it to General Pervez Musharraf for the only reason that in my time he proved to be a better leader then any of the rotten eggs of this era.
SOL Dec 14, 2012 03:18pm
The report by Centre of Investagative Reporting and Centre for Peace and Development Initiative above appeared The Guardian (UK) on 13 December.