Probe Ordered After Website Claimed Pakistan Army Chief Bajwa’s Family Made Billions in 6 years

Date:

Clarion India

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s family members and relatives became billionaires during his six-year tenure, making assets amounting to ₹ 12.7 billion, a Pakistani news website FactFocus has claimed, prompting the government to order a probe on Monday into the “illegal and unwarranted” leak of their tax records.

The FactFocus website, which describes itself as a “Pakistan-based digital media news organisation working on data-based investigative news stories”, shared the alleged wealth statements of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021 on its page.

Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday took notice of the “illegal and unwarranted” leak of the tax records of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s family members and ordered a probe into it.

“This is clearly violative of the complete confidentiality of tax information that the law provides,” a statement issued by the finance ministry stated, a day after a report by investigative news website FactFocus, which allegedly cited tax returns and wealth statements, claimed that the COAS’ family had amassed billions of rupees in the last six years, reports Dawn.

“In view of this serious lapse on the part of to-date unknown functionaries, the finance minister has directed the special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha to personally lead an immediate investigation into the violation of tax law[s] and breach of Federal Board of Revnue (FBR) data, affix responsibility and submit a report within 24 hours,” the statement said.

According to the FactFocus report, released days ahead of Gen Bajwa’s scheduled retirement later this month, regarding the alleged tax records of COAS Bajwa’s family, the current market value of the known assets and business of the army chief, both within and outside Pakistan, amounted to Rs12.7 billion.

The report also shared the alleged wealth statements of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021.

The report claims that the assets of Gen Bajwa’s wife, Ayesha Amjad, went from zero in 2016 to ₹ 2.2 billion (declared and known) in six years. It stated the amount did not include residential plots, commercial plots and houses given by the Army to her husband.

The report also alleged that the total worth of the declared assets of Mahnoor Sabir (Gen Bajwa’s daughter-in-law) jumped from zero in last week of October 2018 to ₹ 1,271 million on November 2, 2018, while the assets of Mahnoor’s sister Hamna Naseer 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.

So far the Army has not commented on the Fact Focus report.

The website 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 and former president General Pervez Musharraf.

FactFocus has claimed that after the publication of the story, the traffic on its site was “disrupted” while also claiming that the website had been “banned,” reports Dawn.

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