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HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS OF PAKISTAN

A recent new phenomenon of sudden appearance of huge credit in one’s bank account and sudden disappearance of the entire amount, is giving sleepless nights to the poor of Pakistan.

US$22 million in the bank account of a rickshaw driver

To some, it has been proved to be too much to tolerate leading to depression and fear. It happened in a similar manner to Mohammad Rasheed, a rickshaw driver, who could barely save a meager amount to buy his daughter a bike. His bank account suddenly had three billion rupees (US$22.5 million) which were transferred to the third party without his faintest knowledge. He was obviously stunned and scared too.

“How and why in the name of Allah it happened?” Shock was too much to bear by his wife who took ill and he himself stopped driving being scared.

Strangely, he was not the only one to have such a nightmare. There was this 52-year old ice cream vendor Mohammad Qadir, who was sweating and shivering seeing transactions of nearly 2.25 billion rupees in his account without his knowledge. This sent the vendor in a tizzy with many people commenting on his sudden richness. He was afraid that incident may give an idea to inimical elements to try and extort money believing him to be a rich guy.

But why was this happening and how come bankers were not able to stop it?

On taking over as Prime Minister of the country, Imran Khan had very candidly announced about the empty coffers and ever-increasing burden of debt making it almost impossible for the PTI govt to sustain and making the economy grow. The public too was sympathetic and willing to support. However, somewhere something was going awry which has forced the public to reconsider their support to the fledgling govt.

This exactly was the Wrong, which was taking place – laundering of money, out of the country to the known and unknown bank accounts of influential people. However, in the process, it played havoc with the lives of the unsuspecting poor whose accounts were used to park and pass the money.

“It is your money” said by the new Prime Minister of the country Imran Khan, and he promised to get it back”. He also promised, “I will not leave any corrupt person in this country.” But nothing has been done till date.

Same was the case with Sarwat Zehra, a 56-year-old official, who suffered from high blood pressure after being handed a bill for 13 million rupees in back taxes. She was told that a company had illegally passed 14 or 15 billion rupees through her account. It is indeed alarming and Pakistan’s poor who have been long been used as fronts for the elite to dodge taxes and hide assets needs to exposed and stopped.

These cases mirror many other similar stories in recent weeks that have filled newspapers in Pakistan and riled a populace long accustomed to extravagant tales of corruption and theft. The incidents follow a set pattern – bank accounts of poor are flooded with cash, and then suddenly emptied in a laundering scheme that has likely seen hundreds of millions of dollars moved out of the country.

This brazen laundering scheme is more worrisome in the backdrop of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) once again greylisting Pakistan for failing to do enough to combat terror financing by such money laundering.

The scale conspiracy is unprecedented, with authorities pointing the finger at some of Karachi’s wealthiest power brokers including figures with links to former president Asif Zardari.

In September, Pakistan’s Supreme Court established a commission to investigate the scourge, finding that at least 400 million dollars had passed through “thousands of false accounts”, using the names of impoverished people. As per the commission, some 600 companies and individuals were associated with the scandal.

29 Oct 2018/Monday                                                Written by Azadazraq

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