Politicians list assets at ‘unbelievably’ low values

  • Electoral amendment requires candidates to list only cost of asset rather than actual market price

ISLAMABAD: In the run-up to the elections, several political bigwigs have succeeded in understating the value of their assets in the details submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as after the recent electoral amendment, the candidates aspiring for the elections are required only to mention the cost of the assets rather than their actual market price.

With the details of the net worth of candidates coming to the fore, a majority of politicians have shown little or no increase in the worth of their assets since 2013.

The electoral law, under which these new forms declaring assets and liabilities have been prepared, doesn’t carry the clause of present market price of the assets anymore after the previous committee on electoral reforms managed to take that clause off the forms.

When the previous parliament passed the Elections Act, 2017, fully backed by the house in October last year, the relevant columns in the nomination forms for declaration of assets and liabilities was tactfully deleted.

The four columns of “Form B” – Assets (details of movable and immovable properties inside and outside Pakistan), cost of assets, present value of property/ assets and remarks (explanation of assets) – were reduced to three by deleting column 3: present value of property/ assets, thereby providing legal cover to lawmakers to undervalue their assets at free will. Since the form is part of the Elections Act, 2017, it cannot be changed without approval from the parliament.

The previous statement of assets and liabilities form issued by the ECP carried clear instructions requiring the candidates to mention present market value of their open plots, houses, apartments, under-construction properties, agriculture property etc.

Following the changes, the candidates for the upcoming polls have shown almost no change in the value of their assets even after passage of five long years during which significant changes in country’s real-estate have been witnessed.

According to sources in the ECP, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s assets reflect an increase in their value from Rs29.67 million in 2013 to Rs38.6 million in 2018.

He also owns a residential property in Bani Gala worth Rs11,471,000 which was gifted to him, and no change in price of the property was listed as compared to five years back.

Imran owns another 6 kanal and 16 marla land in village Mohra Noor in Bani Gala, Islamabad worth Rs5,050,000. The amount remains unchanged since 2013.

He has also mentioned a flat under his name in posh Diplomatic Enclave worth Rs11,970,000 – an increase of Rs220,000 lakh rupees from what he mentioned in the year 2013 Rs1,17,5000.

The PTI chief has another 243 kanal and 6 marla land in Bhakkar, which is worth Rs4,200,000. Same worth was listed in 2013.

The documents mentioned Imran’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore as inherited property.

No significant change has been mentioned in the accumulated assets of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Mian Shehbaz Sharif and his two wives — Nusrat and Tehmina Durrani.

According to the details shared with the ECP, the assets of the family have been valued at Rs389 million.

The former Punjab chief minister owns 172 kanals of land, a Toyota Land Cruiser and bank balance worth more than Rs11.4 million. He possesses assets worth Rs159 million, which include properties worth Rs126 million in London.

Moreover, he owns two properties on Hall Road in Murree: a kanal and nine marla land worth an unbelievable Rs34,000, as well as a bungalow which is worth only Rs27,000.

Shehbaz also owns 88 kanals of land in Sheikhupura, which he received as a gift from his mother.

According to the assets’ details submitted with the ECP, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Zardari has declared income from agriculture and business as his primary means of earning, and assets valuing Rs758 million – being rumored as far less than declared previously.

Zardari claims to owning 349 acres of agricultural land, with 7,399 acres of farmland obtained on lease.

The most surprising disclosure came from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, who had earlier claimed that she does not own any asset in Pakistan or abroad but surprisingly, she owns assets worth over Rs845 million.

According to the documents with ECP, Maryam is the owner of 1,506 kanals irrigation land. She also claims that the agricultural land owned by her has increased by 548 kanals in the last three years.

Maryam, who is expected to be making her political debut on the PML-N’s platform in the forthcoming general election, has also received Rs40 million as gifts and owns jewellery worth Rs1.7 million.


With additional reporting by Hamid Khan Wazir…