Pak Elites Own $12.5 BN Property In Dubai | Who's Responsible For Crumbling Pak? | NewsX Exclusive Debate

Pakistan’s forex reserves are a modest 8 billion US dollars, whereas the Pakistani elite, comprising politicians, military personnel, and bureaucrats, collectively own properties in Dubai worth a staggering 12.5 billion US dollars. This revelation unveils a network of Pakistani nationals owning a whopping 23,000 properties in Dubai.

Pakistan’s forex reserves are a modest 8 billion US dollars, whereas the Pakistani elite, comprising politicians, military personnel, and bureaucrats, collectively own properties in Dubai worth a staggering 12.5 billion US dollars. This revelation unveils a network of Pakistani nationals owning a whopping 23,000 properties in Dubai. Among the notable figures are President Asif Ali Zardari, Interior Minister Hassan Nawaz Sharif, and the spouse of Mohsin Naqvi, a senator. Lawmakers from Sindh and Balochistan assemblies also feature prominently in this list. Even former leaders like General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, along with retired generals, a police chief, an ambassador, and a scientist, are implicated. These properties, ranging from studio apartments to luxurious six-bedroom villas, are situated in prime locations like Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, and Palm Jumeirah. This widespread ownership of foreign assets raises concerns about the economic impact on Pakistan and the lavish lifestyles maintained by its elite, contrasting sharply with the struggles of ordinary citizens.

The 6 p.m. NewsX exclusive debate led by Executive Editor and Anchor Megha Sharma discusses on Pakistan’s forex reserves: $8B. Properties owned by politicians, military, bureaucrats in Dubai: $12.5B. Shocking: 23,000 Dubai properties owned by Pakistanis including Asif Ali Zardari, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, and others. Ranging from studios to lavish villas in prime areas like Dubai Marina. A stark contrast as Pakistan struggles economically while elites build empires in Dubai.

In the panel the anchor was joined by 4 distinguished voices including, Prof.Aman Agarwal , Professor Mahadev Nalapat , Ambassador Mahesh Sachdevand and Mr. Patrikrit payne.

Starting off the debate Executive Editor and Anchor Megha Sharma asked Professor Madhav Nallapet, “given Pakistan’s forex reserves at $8 billion and the Pakistani elite’s collective property holdings in Dubai totaling $12.5 billion, what measures are being taken to address this egregious wealth disparity and rampant tax evasion? As ordinary Pakistanis struggle with rising inflation and basic necessities become unaffordable, how can justice be served to hold accountable those responsible for perpetuating this trend of exploitation and financial misconduct over decades?”

Professor Nalapat highlights a longstanding issue of financial misconduct in Pakistan, extending beyond the conventional economy into illicit activities such as narcotics. He points to the deep involvement of elements within the Pakistani military in the drug trade, using proceeds to finance terrorism, particularly targeting India. This unaccounted wealth, often concealed in secret files, is funneled abroad, with Dubai being a prominent destination. Nalapat underscores that the $12.5 billion figure in Dubai is likely just the tip of the iceberg, as similar amounts are stashed elsewhere. He exposes the intricate network of money laundering, involving relatives settling abroad, remittance channels, and mastery of the Hawala trade. This systemic corruption, spanning decades, results in the systematic plundering of Pakistani resources, including through narcotics and organized crime, ultimately at the expense of its people.

Then Executive Editor and Anchor Megha Sharma asked Ambassador Mahesh Sachdev that ” In light of the revelation that the president of Pakistan possesses substantial wealth invested in properties in Dubai, why has the Pakistani government failed to take action? Despite widespread awareness of authorities’ own involvement in illicit accumulation of funds through tax evasion and corruption, public protests seem to yield no consequences. Furthermore, considering the continuous financial support from international entities like the IMF, World Bank, Saudi Arabia, and China, why has there been a lack of international intervention? With recent exposés shedding light on the elite’s extensive wealth accumulation through properties and bank accounts, why haven’t influential global players such as the IMF, World Bank, and the United States taken steps to ensure justice for the citizens of Pakistan?”

He answers, “Pakistan has reached the pinnacle of kleptocracy, where those capable of amassing wealth do so, while others seek refuge in foreign lands, legally or illegally, in search of better prospects. The prevalence of Pakistani immigrants worldwide is no coincidence. Delving deeper, as Professor Nalpat highlighted, there’s a substantial flow of illicit funds from the state to destinations like Dubai. Additionally, Pakistan historically benefited from significant military aid, particularly during the Afghan wars from 1979 to 1995, and received substantial Gulf funds due to its strategic importance. However, much of this aid ended up in the hands of military leaders and oligarchs, a considerable portion finding its way to places like Dubai. Furthermore, Pakistan’s domestic economy is in dire straits, rendering it an unattractive investment destination.”

Executive Editor and Anchor Megha Sharma then asked Mr. Patrikrit that “Why aren’t international bodies like the United Nations intervening to address the rampant corruption in Pakistan? The lack of action against individuals involved in embezzlement and tax evasion raises serious concerns, especially considering the dire impact on the Pakistani populace. It appears that unless such issues directly affect powerful nations like the United States or China, global entities remain indifferent to the suffering of Pakistanis. This apathy reflects a longstanding trend in global affairs, where powerful Western nations exploit resources from countries like those in Africa, leaving them impoverished. The cycle of exploitation and neglect perpetuates, leaving countries like Pakistan to fend for themselves. The ongoing corruption, highlighted by figures like Imran Khan and President Zardari, suggests a systemic problem that demands urgent attention. It’s crucial for individuals like the President to consider relinquishing their ill-gotten assets for the betterment of the nation, potentially bolstering Pakistan’s forex reserves significantly.”

Patrikrit stated “Essentially, Pakistan’s pervasive corruption and economic mismanagement are deeply entrenched issues, primarily the responsibility of its own leadership and institutions. The staggering scale of embezzlement, facilitated by a culture of impunity and enabled by practices like dual citizenship and the Hawala syndicate, reflects a systemic failure. This pattern, spanning decades, extends across the military, bureaucracy, and political elite, with a race to outdo each other in exploiting national resources. Despite repeated bailouts and international assistance, including IMF loans, Pakistan’s lack of institutional reform and fiscal discipline perpetuates its economic woes. The elite’s preference for personal gain over national development, exemplified by sending their children abroad and radicalizing others for their agendas, exacerbates the problem. Ultimately, resolving Pakistan’s challenges requires internal reform efforts, but resistance from entrenched interests, notably the military, poses a significant obstacle to meaningful change.”

Executive Editor and Anchor Megha Sharma  then stresses upon the matter  – “why wouldn’t the IMF stop the funding, stop the bailouts, stop the loans? Why does Saudi Arabia continue to bail out Pakistan  again and again? Why does China not care about the money that is being siphoned off  by the generals and the politicians?”

To which Aman Agarwal answered  – “The roles of institutions like the IMF and World Bank are distinct from addressing specific instances of corruption. The IMF focuses on monetary systems, while the World Bank primarily supports developmental projects. While corruption is a global issue, it’s not directly within their mandates. Instances of corruption and misuse of power are not unique to Pakistan; similar cases have surfaced globally, including in Latin America and Southeast Asia. It’s crucial to understand that governments have the authority to seize assets, both public and private, in the interest of national security or public welfare, regardless of forex levels. Thailand, for instance, has faced significant corruption scandals, demonstrating the pervasiveness of such issues. India’s role is limited to providing humanitarian aid, not policing other nations’ affairs. The people of Pakistan have long been aware of such challenges, given the historical struggle between democracy and military rule. While these issues may come to light periodically, they underscore broader systemic challenges requiring sustained attention and reform efforts.”

Professor Nalapet was then asked second question – “Is it the world’s responsibility to intervene in Pakistan’s corruption and economic woes? While aid has been provided to countries like Sri Lanka, should the world continue turning a blind eye to Pakistan’s issues? Despite IMF conditions to curb corruption for bailout funds, the world seems indifferent to whether the funds reach the people or are siphoned off. Should global institutions enforce stricter measures to ensure aid serves its intended purpose?”

He stated “-Institutional lenders aim to ensure funds are used appropriately, but Pakistan’s military poses a global concern due to its ties to terrorism and collaboration with powerful neighbors. Historically, the military engaged in covert activities against India, backed by different global powers. Today, China views India as a competitor for investment and manufacturing opportunities, intensifying its collaboration with Pakistan. This dynamic creates a complex geopolitical landscape, with the military’s involvement in covert operations affecting regional stability and global security.”

Executive Editor and Anchor Megha Sharma  questioned Ambassador Sajdev – “when there were similar situations that were found in Sri Lanka, the debt crisis, people came out on the streets, they burnt down Sri Lanka, they came and invaded  into the official residence of the President, and why do we not see a revolt of a similar nature happening in Pakistan?”

Ambassador Sajdev said -“Pakistan’s societal divisions along ethnic lines contribute to its complex political landscape. The Baluch, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Sindhis, and Muhajirs all prioritize their own interests, further fragmenting the nation. Moreover, Pakistan’s repressive state apparatus, comprising feudal lords, military, powerful bureaucracy, lawyers, and judges, safeguards their collective interests, hindering equitable distribution of resources. Unlike India, Pakistan lacks a robust democratic system and transparent economic institutions, exacerbating disparities. Consequently, many Pakistanis either remain unaware or prefer aligning with the elite rather than advocating for the marginalized. Despite simmering discontent, protests often lack a unified focus on economic disenfranchisement. Meanwhile, compared to Pakistan, the UAE’s economic data is more transparent, revealing substantial Indian investments in Dubai, which eclipse Pakistani figures.”

Tracing the extensive property holdings and wealth of politicians would unveil staggering revelations. Contrasting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s declared assets of 3 crore rupees during nomination with President Zardari’s family’s multimillion investments underscores stark differences. The adeptness of politicians, including our own, in concealing global property ownership remains uncertain.