I am really disappointed by the reaction of PTI government and its accountability hawks on the recovery of $248 million from UK. I was expecting jubilation and celebration on this huge recovery. But PTI government and its leaders remained silent on this big success. Many were expecting a marathon press conference with details of this recovery from Shahzad Akbar-Firdous Ashiq Awan-Hammad Azhar and Fawad Chaudhry.
Even the patriotic brigade of TV anchors remained silent. No programs with documents and particular brand of analysts. They were and still are not angry that how this amount was money laundered to UK. Why one of the richest Pakistani billionaire and business tycoons failed to explained the source of his wealth to UK authorities. But no questions asked and no decrees of Choor (thieves) or daku (bandits) issued.
Despite returning the huge amount to UK authorities after failing to explain the source of money for buying these properties- Malik Riaz is still noble, patriotic and clean businessman who loved his country. The reason is simple. Malik Riaz gives advertisement worth billions of rupees every year to media houses. So his name was omitted from news stories by the independent media. All media guns were silenced by the power of money.
Imagine the reaction of free and independent media and accountability hawks- if this amount was recovered from Sharif family or Zardari family. Hours long special marathon transmissions to curse the money launderers and looters. Just imagine about round the clock news stories and headlines for couple of days with every detail of how this plunder and money laundering made us poor and economically weak. One news show after the other how the corrupt elite and mafia has plundered our beautiful homeland. But nothing happened because either Sharifs – Zardaris or other well-known opposition figure was involved.
Could the accountability wizard and media hawks used the same language for Malik Riaz as they did and still doing for politicians. It shows that how powerful money is. How powerful ones become when he or she amassed wealth beyond a certain level. The rules and laws make flexible to spare a super-rich tycoon. The media silenced and censored. The state institutions provide every help to facilitate the powerful and mighty. It is called crony capitalism. The crony capitalism was and still is thriving.
There is nexus of state and business and ruling class have not only benefitted itself but also to the businessmen community as a whole. Crony capitalism is not a crime in capitalist world that rule us. Ruling class loves crony capitalism because it enables them to accumulate wealth even beyond the human imagination. Both the business and state work for the mutual benefit and interest. Both support and help each other.
This one example is enough to show that how one sided and politically motivated this accountability process is. The Sherlock Holmes of accountability Shahzad Akbar addressed a long press conference but instead asked 18 questions from Shahbaz Sharif instead of Malik Riaz. It was a deliberate attempt to divert the attention away from Malik Riaz and $248 million.
The PTI spokesmen and accountability wizard wants us to change the subject and keep focused on the Sharifs’ misdeeds. Its latest accusations appear to carry some weight. But here too, Shahzad Akbar, the accountability wizard, wants to confine our thoughts to the Sharifs alone, and neglect the broader picture that emerges from these accusations. We must live and breathe in the PTI’s narrative and in its social media paradise.
Wondering why- simply because this amount is returned by property tycoon Malik Riaz and not by Sharif family or Zardari. The National Crimes Agency (NCA) UK started investigation into the assets owned by the Pakistani nationals in UK. The PTI government was expecting some good news regarding the assets owned by Sharif family. But against its expectations- it gets hold of Malik Riaz instead of Sharifs. So the jubilations-celebrations and enthusiasm dashed.
In this case Malik Riaz did what the ruling class and billionaire class is doing for years. The certain laws were made and channels opened for the benefit of capitalists through a benevolent state.. There is a section in income tax law (111 of Income Tax Ordinance 2001) that deals with unexplained income of individuals and companies. If an individual fails to explain the source of income, the tax offices are authorised to impose tax along with penalties. The condition was not applicable under Section 111(4) (a) in terms of home remittances; the section was introduced to encourage home remittances into the country.
Home remittances remained exempted from any questioning of sources since year 2004. However, through the Finance Act 2018, a restriction was imposed and remittances equivalent to Rs10 million were granted exemption from questioning. The threshold was further reduced to Rs5 million a year later.
Though it appears like legal tax avoidance, in fact it is tax evasion which is patently illegal. In order to send money abroad, you have to take out undeclared profits from your business and send them abroad illegally, before bringing them back legally. There are two illegal steps before the one legal step. Since the third step – of bringing remittance – enjoys impunity from asking questions, it protects the beneficiary from probe into the first two questions.
Since such great facility was available, the scale of tax evasion must be mind boggling. Similarly, a good amount of illegal money must have been whitened through this facility without paying any penalty or attracting any scrutiny.
The crony capitalists have benefited from this facility. The Sharifs are no exemption. The Malik Riaz- Sharifs and other powerful capitalists and rich have used those laws and send their money abroad through non-banking channels. But to target the Sharifs has nothing to do with corruption as PTI want us to believe.
Sharifs amassed huge amount of money and assets when they were blue eyed boys of Pakistani establishment. They had benefitted enormously with that relationship. They enjoyed political power, prestige and influence for years and used that opportunity for their benefit. They did everything that every powerful capitalist and filthy rich does to accumulate the wealth.
If properly investigated- many businessmen turned politicians within PTI would fall under this category and exclusive club of rich and powerful. The powerful elite opened windows of opportunities for them and used it to accumulate and protect their wealth.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The ACE News.
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17 November, 2019