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Posts Tagged MNA Corruption

Pakistan: A Need for Clarity in light of the Confessions Of An Economic Hitman (Deception of IMF / World Bank)

Pakistan: A Need for Clarity in light of the Confessions Of An Economic Hitman (Deception of IMF / World Bank)

Saeed A. Malik.

There is much that Pakistan needs to pull itself out of the hole it finds itself in. Among these is the utmost need for clarity on the following questions:

  1. What has happened to Pakistan?

  2. Why did this happen?

  3. What should be expected to follow?

  4. What is the way out?

Unless clear and precise answers to the above are forthcoming, the way forward cannot be determined. And losing our way in the dark of the night will only increase our pain and add to our troubles. So trying to find answers to these questions the best we can, should at least be attempted.

  1. What has happened to Pakistan?

If a person owes more money than he has the resources to pay back his debt, technically he can be said to be bankrupt. So is the case with states.

This is the closest Pakistan has come to national bankruptcy. Thus far the efforts of the government have succeeded to buy time to set the national house in order. There are goals set for the future. And to the achievement of these goals, our hopes are tied.

But there is no certainty as yet that these goals will be achieved.

Pakistan has borrowed even more to gain time in order to prevent a total shipwreck and to plan its way out of the morass. It had no other option.

From now until we turn the corner therefore, our national security must remain in the most parlous state that it has ever been. This must be very clear to all.

  1. Why did this happen?

We are supposed to be a parliamentary democracy. We elect people who are sworn to defend the highest national interest. Each of these people who offer themselves for elections must spend at least Rs ten crores to have any chance of winning. When they win, it is their first goal to recover what they have spent in the process. Then they must make a hefty profit on this investment. Thus the very system is rooted in illegal money-making, out and out corruption, and subversion of the rule of law. And yet we insist on calling this system a democracy.

The elected members of parliament cannot recover their investment and then go on to make a profit on it, without help from the bureaucrats. So they subvert the bureaucracy. Next, they must indemnify themselves against the possibility of facing criminal proceedings on account of their crimes of corruption. To ensure this all law enforcement agencies and the judiciary must also be subverted. Concurrently with this, the political opposition and the media must be made friendly. They make a partnership with the first and buy the second. And ultimately they aim for the greatest immunity of all i.e the certainty to be elected perpetually. This they manage by mangling the constitution.

This is precisely what has happened to Pakistan. What ought to have been a democracy, turned out to be a vast criminal enterprise. Every national institution, except the armed forces, was co-opted, and then destroyed in the process. And also destroyed along with these institutions was the value system which holds any halfway decent society together. 

A system in which one must first invest to get elected, and then make a profit on this investment, has to be founded on the legitimation of plunder. And this leads to the fattening of the leaders and emptying of the national treasury. The already poor are ground into dust, and the middle classes are pushed into poverty.

To expect a  system founded on its opposition to the rule of law to blossom into a democracy, can only be the expectation of an idiot. The system is designed to promote crime. This is exactly what befell Pakistan. On this, there must be total clarity.

But the question that will not easily be put to rest is, whether it was insatiable greed alone which drove the Zardari-Sharif to combine to inflict rape on their motherland, or was there some other force propelling them in this direction as well.

 To get an answer to this we need to examine the case of Iran. There are a number of motivating factors driving the U.S policy against Iran. But the main driver of this policy is Israel’s central, Yinon-driven obsession with Iran i.e to destroy any Muslim country in the middle east which could potentially challenge Israeli hegemony in this region.

Iran has been groaning under decades of sanctions. The aim is to bankrupt this state so that the pain inflicted on the common man brings him out on the street, and this brings about a regime change.

 

 

Pillaging the World. The History and Politics of the IMF

 

 

But Iran does not even have the rudiments of a bomb as yet, while Pakistan has hundreds of them, as well as proven delivery systems. Why are there no sanctions on Pakistan, which is not only potentially a far greater challenge to Israel, but additionally it has done the most to undermine the “containment of China policy” by its full support for the CPEC, which will bring China directly into the middle east?

The answer should be clear as daylight. And this answer is that when you have your team of economic hit men directly ruling the roost in Pakistan, they will do a far quicker job of bringing the country to its knees than any number of sanctions could!

The reader needs to just examine the ease with which loan after the loan was extended to Pakistan for the last ten years, without bringing under scrutiny our country’s ability to repay the same! 

And this is precisely what the role of an Economic Hitman is defined as i.e take the target country to a stage where it no longer has the ability to repay its loans. Once there, such a country’s arm can be twisted to till it surrenders its sovereignty. See the attached video below.

  1. What should be expected to follow?

For the moment Pakistan’s economic situation has left it few options but to borrow more and to print currency to get by. This is directly responsible for the inflation Pakistan is experiencing i.e there is more currency in the country than there are goods to buy, so that the value of the currency is depreciating, while that of the goods is appreciating relative to it.

But very soon all employers, including the government, will have to revise the pay structure of its employees so that people get a livable wage. For this, it will have to print more money. And this will have to be repeated every few months. And the more is the currency that gets printed, the lower the value of money will fall, and the more expensive will the goods become. 

And this is exactly what has happened to the dollar rate. It will keep rising in value in inverse proportion to the fall in the value of the Pakistani rupee i.e as the value of the rupee falls, so that of the dollar will increase.

So unless something spectacular happens to save our hides, we are on our way to hyperinflation. And what follows this is hyper-instability. And this is a frightening prospect.

What makes the situation worse is that a global recession in 1020 is almost a certainty.  And as per economist Nouriel Roubini, if there is a war on Iran, this could result in the first global depression since 1929.

Thus there is little hope for the situation in Pakistan turning around in a year, or two years, or three.

This needs to be foreseen. 

So this is where the Zardari-Sharif machine and their teams of hit men have left Pakistan. That this slide occurred on the watch of two army chiefs, who held ultimate de facto responsibility for national security, makes me retch.

  1. What is the way out?

Nothing in the short term can help ease the economic situation of Pakistan than speeding up work on the CPEC. Additionally, China needs requesting to set up some industries in Pakistan on an urgent basis. Chinese interests in Pakistan will make it likely that they will agree to help out Pakistan. But they will think over this twice unless Pakistan has a strong government and a considerably more efficient bureaucracy in place. And most importantly, China would like Pakistan to be first embedded solidly in the pro-China camp.

It must be quite clear to all that Hafeez Shaikh and company are products of the Chicago School’s economic thinking. They have been schooled to push the neo-liberal economic agenda. It is absolutely essential for Pakistan to get an alternative view on all the economic plans they have crafted. No point wading into what might well turn out to be another economic minefield without first having it reexamined from an alternate point of view.

Be very clear on how to deal with the business community. No raids. No random arrests. It will pay to listen to their genuine grievances and to address them before taking any action against them.

Stolen assets need to be recovered, and hidden ones documented.

The principle that needs to be adopted is that if the people who have plundered Pakistan and inflicted such unbearable pain on its wretched millions do not return stolen assets, they shall not be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their ill-gotten wealth either. No deals, no “production orders”, no A or B class in jail. Let them be treated as the thieves that they are. All their wealth should be confiscated by the state e.g Asif Zardari’s 19 sugar mills etc fall in this category.

And all such people who have not returned stolen assets, should not be allowed to leave the country even after they have completed their jail terms. And those against whom prima facie evidence of wrongdoing exists, but who have yet to be indicted because of the overstretched state resources to do this, should at the very least be put on ECL.

If this is meticulously done, those who have undocumented wealth will on their own begin to come forward to pay their dues. 

Broadening the tax base and the system of gathering taxes has to be improved. A lot will depend upon how FBR functioning is improved. And this is a whole new subject.

How to repatriate assets held abroad will be the real problem, but there are ways to do this as well. No country would want Pakistan to be pushed against the wall to the extent that it will be forced to sell off some of its defense technologies in order to survive. If they SERIOUSLY suspect this, they will become amenable to repatriate both our criminals hiding among them, as wealth as Pakistan’s stolen millions. But this will happen only if China is standing squarely behind Pakistan. 

This drive will have to begin with tightening up NAB. This should begin with bringing Choudhary Qamar Zaman on trial for deliberately facilitating mega-crooks to go free. Begin this by bringing charges against him for the way he handled the Hudaibya case. If this is done, it shall serve notice to the rest of NAB, which needs to be done if NAB is to function optimally.

From all of the above, it should be quite clear that the government can do little to give immediate economic and financial relief to the people of Pakistan, beyond setting the right direction, so that each passing day brings about an improvement. However, what the government can do, without any additional expenditure, is to significantly improve governance. For this to come about, all that is really needed is to weed out the worst officers from all institutions, and place, promote, empower, and support the very best.

Pakistan does not have the financial capital to fall back on. Yet it has reserves of human capital, which it can tap to bring about a significant improvement in governance. Greater reserves of this human capital lie lost in the ranks of the retired, than in those of the serving, which have largely been infected by the rot which spread in the last ten years. It is for the government to set aside many of the rules governing employment and massively requisition the services of such retired officers whose claim to fame was ability and integrity, and who are still in reasonable health to serve the state.

The sad thing, however, is, that even with the limited supply of very good officers which the government can deploy in certain areas to improve governance, this has not been done. One’s take is that on the subject of governance, the performance of the present government is even poorer than the outgoing one. And this must have taken some doing!

But the reason for this is again the “system”. All MNAs and MPAs are interested in having DCs and SPs of choice posted in their constituencies. Their prime interest is not good governance, but that of exercising control.. Thus the system has made the PM hostage blackmail by the legislators, whether these belong to his own party, or belong to his affiliates.

And this is the central problem. Pakistan is forced to sustain a political system which is directly responsible for the ills and maladies the state and its people are suffering from. It is a system which is antithetical to the demands of good government but must be borne nonetheless. Pakistan is in the unhappy position of trying to clean out the village well, without first fishing out the dead dog which is the cause of the pollution. The dog is this very system. The well cannot be cleaned as long as the dog is there. Pakistan is grappling with the direst emergency of its existence, and trying to combat it, pinning its hopes on a dead dog!

Only when there is absolute clarity on this issue can Pakistan move purposefully ahead. This is an emergency situation and must be combated as one. The constitution was deliberately mangled to remove all remedies against such a situation. But the Supreme Court exists. The PM should resort to S.C for an in camera hearing, to lay before it the reality of our national security, and how it has been undermined. He should make a plea for the formation of a national government by the President of Pakistan to tide us through this period of national emergency and to restore the fortunes of the state.

Each day that passes with the government trying to address the situation with tools not adequate to it, is a day lost. And each day the dog stinks worse.

Confessions Of An Economic Hitman

What is an economic hitman? 

Cenk Uygur and John Perkins, hosts of The Conversation, break it down. 

MORE TYT: https://tyt.com/trial

https://youtu.be/t8ZEFpHGFZA

Preview YouTube video Confessions Of An Economic Hitman

 

 

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Low Attendance Mars a Futile National Assembly Session:Parliamentarians Take the Money & Run

Out of a Parliament of 342, only 42 members were present in the Assembly on Friday

 

 

 

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Is this what the Feudal Politicians call Democracy ? It looks already Derailed

 

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Hamid Maker: Straight Talk – Of Broken Promises and Shattered Dreams

For the last six decades, Pakistan has been traveling down the River Of No Return, without a paddle or a rudder, heading for the Niagara Falls and the rocks Unknown-15 

Therefore, if we want to save Pakistan, we will have to take ownership of our country and step into the world of hunger, squalor, disease, despair and death and share their grief and sorrow and try to fulfill their broken promises. If we fail to establish a just and honest system of governance, then neither the drones, nor the mightiest army nor our nukes will stop the March of the Taliban.

 

And to achieve this, we need an honest and sincere leader and a government that is free from corruption and dishonest parlimantarians. And this can only be achieved if the corrupt parliamentarians are disqualified by ECP and prevented from participating in the coming election.

 

Unfortunately, Fakhru Bhai and his four-member team are being put under tremendous pressure from those in government, who are trying to sabotage the workings of ECP, by accusing its shameless members of ‘witch hunting’ and defaming the politicians. But then, as the late Ardeshir Cowasgee, God bless his soul, had asked,‘How do you shame the shameless’?

 

As such, if we wish to save Pakistan, we, who have the most to lose, must stand up and be counted and come to the aid of the Election Commission of Pakistan. In this connection, Citizens For Fair Election are organizing a series of peaceful demonstrations in front of the ECP office, (opposite the passport office in Saddar), on Monday 25th at 12pm and request all citizens to participate in the demonstrations.

 

And if we fail to do so, then as Shakespeare had written: ‘The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings’ and the bells that tool, will be for us.

Hamid Maker. (Email: trust@helplinetrust.org).

 

 

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PARLIAMENTARY CROOKS: How Crooks Rule Pakistan-Nearly 70 percent of Pakistani lawmakers don’t file taxes

 

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

 Plato quotes (Ancient Greek Philosopher He was the world’s most influential philosopher. 428 BC-348 BC)

 

 

Nearly 70 percent of Pakistani lawmakers don’t file taxes – group

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Almost 70 percent of Pakistani lawmakers did not file income taxes last year, an investigative journalism group said on Wednesday, highlighting deep flaws in a taxation system that has drawn repeated criticism from Western aid donors.

The Center for Investigative Journalism in Pakistan released a report based on leaked tax returns, marking the first time that the records of 446 lawmakers and ministers have been published and focusing scrutiny on individuals ahead of polls next year.

Pakistan’s inability to raise revenue has constrained government spending, depriving schools and hospitals of funds and exacerbating a power crisis, causing widespread hardship in the nuclear-armed country of 180 million people.

Western allies have poured billions of dollars in aid into Pakistan, worried that growing public anger may boost recruitment to Islamist militant groups threatening to destabilise Pakistan and beyond.

But the aid has not been nearly enough to plug the huge gap between members of the elite, who often pay little tax, and the poor who desperately need the public services taxes should fund.

“This is what the people of Pakistan are upset about,” said Jehangir Tareen, a trim, silver-haired businessman who paid the most tax in the National Assembly last year. He tried to set a precedent by making his returns public but no one followed suit.

“Taxes are the beginning and end of reform in Pakistan,” said Tareen, who gave up his seat in parliament in frustration over his inability to push changes. “Right now the rich are colluding to live off the poor.”

Umar Cheema, an award-winning journalist heading the Center for Investigative Journalism, said he hoped the report would make members of parliament more accountable to voters.

Cheema took legislators’ identity card numbers from their public election nomination papers, then convinced employees at the Federal Board of Revenue to leak the tax returns related to the identity numbers. It took him nine months to collect the data.

POOR ENFORCEMENT

The report highlights why Pakistan has failed to improve its tax collection rates: politicians benefit from a lax regime. No one has been convicted of income tax evasion in 25 years and few Pakistanis see a failure to pay tax as shameful.

Although lawmakers have about $25 (15.48 pounds) a month deducted from their basic pay in tax, almost all have second incomes.

“They built this system for their own benefit,” said tax expert Ikramul Haq. Poor laws and loopholes meant lawmakers often have their income exempt from tax, he said.

Huge swathes of the economy, like agriculture, are virtually exempt. Specially designated products also benefit from “zero-ratings” and are not subject to any tax.

“We want to cut down on zero ratings and loopholes,” said Ali Arshad Hakeem, the head of the Federal Board of Revenue. He has vowed to crack down on tax cheats.

“Parliamentarians are just a subsection of the population we want to become compliant,” he said.

Enforcement is so poor that paying tax is almost voluntary, another revenue official said. About one percent of Pakistanis file tax returns.

The investigative group said it had not been able to find tax returns for 35 out of 55 government ministers, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Finance Minister Hafiz Sheikh was among those who did file, paying $1,700 in tax on his ministerial salary. His money from private equity funds would be exempt, a tax official said. He spent more on his electricity bill than his taxes, according to a federal tax record seen by Reuters.

The interior and finance ministries did not return calls or emails inquiring about tax obligations for ministers. Visits by a Reuters reporter also did not yield any comments.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar paid $670, the investigative center said. Her spokesman said she paid $1,700, more than most. Her agricultural income and a small dividend from up-market restaurants she co-owns were exempt, he said.

Among the ordinary members of parliament whose tax returns the investigative group was unable to find is Mehboob Ullah Jan, a former secretary for religious affairs.

He is often pictured wearing a traditional flat cap, handing out aid to poor families fleeing fighting in his native northwestern Pakistan.

Jan has assets of more than $30 million, making him the country’s richest legislator, according to an analysis of asset declarations by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, an Islamabad-based think-tank.

Jan did not return calls seeking comment.

The average Pakistani legislator has assets of $800,000, the investigative center’s study of their declarations found. Yet of those who paid tax, most paid less than $1,000, it said.

Former minister and Georgetown University graduate Mushahid Hussain Syed paid less than a dollar in tax, the center said. The senator was attending a conference in Bali but sent an email disputing the report and saying he had paid $6.

“I was not a Senator then, my source of support was from my family’s agricultural income and lecture honoraria,” he told Reuters.

According to his tax record, Syed paid $6 but had $5 due as a refund.

“RIDDLED WITH HOLES”

The report makes troubling reading for Pakistan’s donors. Much of their aid supports services normally funded by state revenues.

Britain has begun a five-year, billion dollar project to improve education in Pakistan. The United States has given Pakistan more than $3 billion over the past two years.

Pakistan also owes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) $7 billion. The IMF has repeatedly demanded Pakistan widen its tax base as a precondition of possibly rescheduling loan repayments.

“The tax net is riddled with holes,” said Jeffrey Franks, a regional advisor to the IMF.

Most countries collect between 20 to 40 percent of their economic output in tax. In Pakistan, less than 10 percent is collected, Franks said.

Pakistan revenue authorities say 0.57 percent of adults pay income tax and the number is steadily declining.

“People know that the elites, the government, are corrupt but they don’t understand how the corruption works,” said report author Cheema.

“If our rulers are not paying for themselves, why should taxpayers in other countries pay for them?”

Part of the problem with going after tax evaders is the poor state of records at the Federal Board of Revenue. It’s hard to distinguish ineptitude from corruption, officials said.

About three quarters of the time, people’s declarations of what they paid did not match the actual payments, the officials said. An official said authorities never really tried to match up the records: “Oh dear God, no!” he laughed.

(Editing by Michael Georgy and Robert Birsel)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

This video has been hacked by cyberterrorists of MQM and defaced. This was done at the direction of Pakistan’s No.1 Terrorist, Altaf Hussain

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