Financial Wizardry

So long as he is blowing whistles and not just hot air standing on a container, Imran Khan will continue to have a space in the arena of national politics. It is his constant finger pointing, whether it be Altaf Husaain or Ishaq Dar, that continues to get him popular support and keeps him relevant. Even with the whole dharna fiasco behind him, when he accuses someone of misdeeds, the media makes a big deal out of it. Otherwise pointing fingers is nothing novel, our politicians do it all the time. It is novel, and even entertaining, when the rebuttal is weak or non-existent. The PTI chief has been complaining about the continuing flow of money out of Pakistan for overseas investments and said that the government was dragging its feet on signing the tax avoidance treaty with the Swiss authorities.
Enter financial wizard extraordinaire, Ishaq Dar, who has a private pile of money big enough that he can ‘gift’ $4 mllion of it to his sons to invest in Dubai. Imran has accused him on money laundering and tax evasion. Just because he is rich, doesn’t mean his money is ill-gotten. However, Dubai is a tax haven, and the speculation makes sense.
The outflow of capital from Pakistan continues, while we keep plugging the flow with ejections of money borrowed from the IMF. Even if Ishaq Dar is the honest gentleman he says he is, and the $4 million was just lent soon to come back to Pakistan, it is a blow to investor confidence. If Pakistan’s own Finance Minister has his money abroad, why should other Pakistanis not look to foreign countries to put away their money? Soon after the formation of the government, Ishaq Dar claimed to launch a movement to bring back stolen money in Swiss banks. But there is no commitment or even hope for this. Since the democratic transition began in the late 1980s, the political leadership has been extorting the exchequer and transferring it to foreign accounts. Without an effective accountability system, the flight of money will not stop.

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