Tue, 12 Dec 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], November 23 (ANI): Assuring a "logical conclusion" for the report related to the leak of Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa's income tax records, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar shared that people behind the leak have been identified.

Dar received the interim report on Tuesday and repeated that leaking the army chief's income tax returns was "illegal," reported Geo News.

He shared that one person involved in the leak is from Lahore and another from Rawalpindi.

However, he added that there is a possibility that some of the individuals involved may have the authorisation to look at the income tax records as there is a "circle" in Rawalpindi where assessments take place, reported Geo News.

"These people are authorised to access (data) for their assessment," said Dar.

The finance minister believed that if "illegal work" is allowed or a blind eye is turned towards it then a person will not be fulfilling their duty, reported Geo News.

"The law does not allow the release of the army chief or anyone else's income tax returns without a court order," said the finance minister.

A day earlier, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar took notice of the "illegal and unwarranted" leakage of tax information of Gen Bajwa's family members, reported Geo News.

"This is clearly a violation of the complete confidentiality of tax information that the law provides," a statement from the Finance Division had read.

In view of this serious lapse on the part of to-date unknown functionaries, Dar had directed Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha to personally lead the probe, affix responsibility, and submit a report within 24 hours.

"I have seen the interim report. I hope to receive the final report today," Dar told Geo News. He added that the government has found a few people behind the leak and the issue will reach its logical conclusion.

Notably, a damaging report has shed light on the sharp rise of wealth of close family members of the most powerful person in the country in a span of six years, less than two weeks before Bajwa's tenure is about to end.

Writing for Fact Focus, Pakistani journalist Ahmad Noorani has unearthed how Bajwa's immediate and extended family members, in a matter of few years, started a new business, became owners of farmhouses in prominent Pakistani cities and bought foreign properties, making billions of dollars in the process.

The investigative report by Fact Focus is supported by a lot of data that looks into the financial dealing of Bajwa's family including his wife Ayesha Amjad, his daughter-in-law Mahnoor Sabir and other close family members.

"Within six years, both families become billionaires, started an international business, purchased multiple foreign properties, started transferring capital abroad, become owners of commercial plazas, commercial plots, huge farmhouses in Islamabad and Karachi, an immense real estate portfolio in Lahore, and so on. The current market value of the - known - assets and businesses within Pakistan and outside accumulated by the Bajwa family during the last six years is more than Rs12.7 billion," Noorani wrote.

Based on tax returns and other financial statements, the Pakistani journalist noted how between 2013 and 2017, Bajwa revised the wealth statement for 2013 three times, after being appointed country's army chief.

"In the revised wealth statement for the year 2013, General Bajwa added a commercial plot in phase VIII of DHA Lahore. He claimed that in fact he had purchased this plot back in 2013 but forgot to declare. He would continue to forget for the next four years and could only remember his omissions in 2017, one year after becoming army chief," he wrote in Fact Focus.

Back in 2016, Ayesha Amjad declared eight "Any Other Assets", without giving much detail. However, this was revised on April 17, 2018, when Bajwa became the Pak army chief. She declared that the net value of her assets during the previous financial year, 2015, was zero.

But within six years, after dubious dealing of residential and commercial plots, her wealth went from zero in 2016 to Rs 2.2 billion - "not including residential plots, commercial plots, and houses given by the army to her husband."The change in fortune of Bajwa's daughter-in-law Mahnoor Sabir is equally amazing.

"The total worth of a young woman's declared assets was zero in the last week of October 2018, it jumped to more than one billion (Rs 1271 million) just one week before her marriage on November 02, 2018," Ahmad Noorani wrote.

Though Mahnoor Sabir declared these properties to the FBR in 2018, the report added that the filing retrospectively stated that these properties were acquired in the tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016.

This report on Bajwa comes on Sunday, a day before the process for the appointment of a new army chief is likely to start. The content of Fact Focus is so damaging that the website of the publication is reportedly being blocked in Pakistan.

"FactFocus website being blocked in Pakistan. We will fight censorship. Please use VPN. Free VPNs are available in app stores. Or use the one you use to watch "those" sites," the publication tweeted on Sunday. (ANI)

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