The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Sunday said that data regarding the alleged assets of outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his family members making the rounds on social media were “misleading”.
The statement comes days after a report by investigative news website FactFocus — which describes itself as a “Pakistan-based digital media news organisation working on data-based investigative news stories — accused the army chief and his family of amassing assets worth Rs12.7 billion over the past six years.
The report cited tax records and wealth statements of the Bajwa family to corroborate its claims about the alleged accumulation of assets by the family inside and outside Pakistan.
In the statement released today, the ISPR said that the data was being exaggerated on the basis of assumptions.
A certain group has cleverly and with ill-intent linked the assets of the father and family of Gen Bajwa’s daughter-in-law with the army chief and his family, the statement said.
The military’s media affairs wing said that a “false impression” was being given that these assets were acquired by Gen Bajwa’s samdhi during his six-year tenure.
“It is totally untrue and based on blatant lies and malice,” the ISPR said. It went on to say that the assets of Gen Bajwa, his wife and the rest of his family had been declared to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
The army chief and his family regularly file their tax returns, the statement said.
“Like every citizen, the army chief and his family are answerable to the tax authorities for their assets,” the statement said.
According to the FactFocus report regarding the alleged tax records of COAS Bajwa’s family, the current market value of the known assets and business of the army chief, both within and outside Pakistan, amounted to Rs12.7 billion.
The report also shared the alleged wealth statements of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021.
It claimed that the assets of Gen Bajwa’s wife, Ayesha Amjad, went from zero in 2016 to Rs2.2 billion (declared and known) in six years. The report stated the amount didn’t include residential plots, commercial plots and houses given by the army to her husband.
The report also alleged that the total worth of the declared assets of Mahnoor Sabir (Gen Bajwa’s daughter-in-law) jumped from zero in last week of October 2018 to Rs1,271 million on Nov 2, 2018, while the assets of Mahnoor’s sister Hamna Naseer went from zero in 2016 to “billions” by 2017. Furthermore, the tax returns of Sabir Hameed — the army chief’s son’s father-in-law — were less than a million in 2013 but “in the coming years, he became a billionaire”, the website claimed.
According to the publication, it was unable to obtain data about assets in the name of Gen Bajwa’s two sons.
Shortly after the report was published, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had said that the leak was “clearly violative of the complete confidentiality of tax information that the law provides” and ordered a probe.
Last week, Dar said the FBR had traced the identities of the people who had leaked the tax records.
In an interview with journalist Hamid Mir, the minister said: “We have found traces [behind the leak]. One is from Lahore and one is from Rawalpindi.”
He stated that there was a possibility that some of the individuals involved may have the authorisation to look at the income tax records as there was a “circle” in Rawalpindi where assessments took place.
At the same time, the finance minister stressed that the law doesn’t give permission to leak the record of income tax returns of anyone, whether it was the army chief or a common man, without court orders.