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Pakistan’s poor political elite?

ISLAMABAD – The laughably pitiful attitude of the parliamentarians to hide their wealth details, this time from Punjab and Sindh assemblies, saw the habitually annual repetition on Friday after the Election Commission of Pakistan finally took the ‘pain’ to make public the assets details of the ruling elites of the two provincial assemblies.

As stereotypically subtle part of this notably bizarre exercise, which the ECP cannot help observing as a silent spectator, the ‘filthy rich’ political elites sound quite ‘timid’ in revealing the details of their otherwise aristocratic lifestyles.

Despite that the Punjab’s Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has assets worth over 175 million rupees in UK including a Rs146 million mortgaged property there, no record of his believably big assets in Saudi Arabia is provided in his assets returns. The Punjab CM, whose family owns one of the richest industrial group of Pakistan, has assets worth slightly over Rs90 million in Pakistan. Perhaps the huge brigade of vehicles parked at his Raiwand residence are just ‘delusional’ entities, Shahbaz Sharif actually owns only one 2006 model ‘gifted’ Toyota Land Cruiser. His first wife has assets worth Rs254 million and second wife has assets that value over Rs9 million.

The CM Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah conveniently managed to conceal actual worth of his land details by attaching a two-line note right at the top of his assets returns which read, “These represent costs/valuations made by government agencies several years ago. No fresh valuations are available.” Shah owns a house in the Karachi’s posh area of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) that values only Rs2.7 million. The net worth of his other land properties does not exceed Rs1.5 million.

The value of imported bullet proof Toyota Land Cruiser that belongs to Prime Minister’s son Abdul Qadir Gilani, according to his assets returns, is Rs128 million. He has 500 tolas of gold that value Rs13 million. Considering market price of per tola gold being Rs49,110, the 500 tolas of gold do not value less than Rs24 million.

Chaudhry Moonis Elahi is ‘car-less’ and does not have any vehicle registered in his name. What calls for eyes to pop out of their sockets is that Elahi’s business abroad values only seven hundred thousand rupees. The payable loans on his part are Rs150 million. Devoid of any vehicle, Raja Riaz also joins the ‘car-less’ club. He has a four kanal plot in Faisalabad but as fate has it, this ‘poor’ plot worth only four hundred thousand rupees. Raja’s wife has a factory in Chakwal valuing Rs4.6 million and he is liable to pay bank loans of Rs8.4 million. He has three shops and three ‘quarters’ the net value of which is Rs2.5 million.

Opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Zaheeruddin has three businesses in Pakistan that worth Rs3.3 million. Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly Shehla Raza’s spouse has 300 shares in a business enterprise valuing only Rs30,000. Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Mashood owns a 2003 model Santro worth Rs325,000.

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