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Declared assets: Rich Senators of a poor nation

ISLAMABAD: Despite rampant under-declaration of assets, Pakistani Senators have net worths running into the millions and even billions of rupees, according to details of asset declarations made public by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The ECP, however, has no mechanism to verify the authenticity of claims made by the lawmakers.

Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, the treasury leader in the Senate, has a 1990 model Chevrolet Caprice. He also owns 30-tola of gold valued at Rs1.2 million. The senator’s bank account holds Rs1.31 million in a UBL branch. He claims that the total worth of his furniture and articles of personal use is Rs 200,000.

Bukhari, his spouse and his son own several properties in and around Islamabad. A commercial plot in Sector G-9/4 is worth Rs15 million. He also purchased another plot for Rs1.8 million, which is now also worth Rs15 million. He also owns a 236-kanal plot of land in Haripur district which he inherited from his parents. The value of his land is shown to be Rs23.6 million. He purchased another 231-kanal piece of land in Jandala village which is now valued at Rs23.1 million. Another piece of land, measuring 20 kanals in Tarlai village was purchased for Rs15 million is worth almost the same. His spouse owns some “ancestral land” and owns a share in a house in a posh sector of Islamabad and in two CNG stations. His son owns a farmhouse worth Rs10 million.

Waseem Sajjad, leader of the opposition in the Senate, owns at least 10 plots, several houses and farmhouses besides shares and accounts in various domestic and international banks. The declared worth of his assets is said to be Rs131.6 million. He clarified that the market value he declared is approximate and the exact value can only be determined if the property is sold.

Ishaq Dar, PML-N’s parliamentary leader in Senate, is no different. According to him, he owns a House in Gulberg, Lahore which is, at present, worth Rs45 million. The Senator and his wife purchased 20 kanals of land “some time ago” in Islamabad for Rs7.02 million a kanal. He has not mentioned the current value of this land. The Senator has a villa in the UAE which he purchased for 10.18 million dirhams. Besides owning three luxury vehicles, including a Mercedes Benz said to be valued Rs10 million, Dar also holds shares and businesses worth “millions of dollars” inside and outside Pakistan. the value of his furniture, fittings and articles of personal use is just Rs 250,000.

The declared assets of chief of the PML-Q Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain include “half a share in two residential houses” in posh localities of Islamabad and Lahore worth just Rs5.2 and Rs3.4 million, respectively. He did not give their current value. Shujaat declared that he owned 78 acres of agricultural land whose value, according to him, was only Rs376,667 while the value of another 12.5-acre land was Rs4.5 million. He owns shares worth Rs10.04 million and cash in bank accounts Rs51.78 million. Interestingly, Shujaat is among legislators who do not own a car.

MQM’s parliamentary leader in the Senate has four residential properties in Karachi. He valued his two houses in Karachi at Rs61 million and 37 million, respectively. He has invested Rs5 million in two separate businesses. Another of the businesses in which he has invested is worth 150,000 dinars and $300,000. He owns two Toyota Prado SUVs both 2005 models, some jewellery and some cash in bank accounts.

PPP Senators Gul Muhammad Lot and Ammar Ahmad Khan are richest among Senators. Lot owns property valuing Rs1.351 billion inside and outside Pakistan and investments worth Rs1.42 billion. He has nine properties abroad.

The declared net value of assets of Ammar Ahmad Khan is Rs 1.152 billion. He has shown an investment of Rs 1.107 billion in his business. He owns four in Gulberg Lahore alone. Interestingly, his father ranks on top of the poorest Senators with net liabilities to the tune of Rs 197.6 million.

Azam Khan Swati owns six properties valuing over Rs520 million in the US and has 16 million dirhams in various properties in the UAE. He has declared the combined value of nine of his plots with built structures in Bahria town, at Rs150 million. He owns 10 plots in Islamabad, two houses in Abbotabad and some inherited property with forest infrastructure and houses.

Federal Minister Israrullah Zehri owns agricultural land spread over 50,000 acres and valued at billions of rupees in Balochistan. He also owns a bungalow each in Karachi and Quetta and a 40-acre plot of land in Gwadar.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2011.

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