Valued at cost price

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The few friends that I have left have now all but sworn off PTI-related discussion. This is because every time we start talking about Imran Khan’s chances in the next elections, someone looses a limb. It is also advisable not to bring up the subject of Imran Khan during high pressure situations, such as paintball matches, where one stands to lose more than just an eye. Generally speaking, steer clear of any PTI-doublespeak and you should be fine.
A lot of people are writing, ranting, raving and regurgitating hackneyed witticisms about how Tehreek-e-Insaf is just another bubble and that all the coyotes signing up are the same farm hands that have milked us dry in the past. There are also accusations that the party is merely an establishment tool; that they do not have a strong policy guideline on any issue; that they are suspiciously soft on the Taliban and unnecessarily hard on the US, and so on. Then there are the cautious stoics, who advocate the asking of ‘tough questions’ from the PTI high command – tough questions that are designed to extract real answers to burning questions, not meant for rhetorical purposes but policy decisions.
A lot of people have tried to reason with these Insafians, or PTI trolls. But the consensus seems to be that there is now a clear ‘us and them’ divide in contemporary Pakistani society: Those that are ‘with’ Imran Khan and those that will be burnt at stake when the PTI hordes sweep the next elections. This narrative is disturbingly prevalent among the people I hang out with, so I might have to move to Barbados and change my middle name to ‘Johnston’ if the hordes do ascend to power. I hear Reporters Without Borders will soon be issuing an advisory and before we can say “Big Brother is a Pathan from Mianwali”, we will hear that the US is granting asylum to writers such as the right honourable Waqqas Mir because a post-jalsa Pakistan is not a safe place for any PTI-skeptic. Gone are the days when bold journalists spoke out against injustice or corruption or the establishment or irregularities within the armed forces; now anyone critical of Imran Khan is considered brave.
Such dogmatic disdain for constructive criticism would be troubling if not for the fact that this is Pakistan. Indeed, anyone who dares to speak against the rising tide of public opinion/ignorance should be prepared for reprisals. Fellow revolutionaries may remember Habib Jalib’s epilogue to his iconic reading of the epic ‘Mein ney uss sey yeh kaha’ (available with subtitles on YouTube), where he recounts a meeting with the poet Hafeez Jallundari, who was then adviser to despot-extraordinaire Ayub Khan. The British social scientist and filmmaker Adam Curtis also refers to the supplanting of one autocratic social order with another revolutionary one in his tour de force ‘The Trap: What Happened to our Dream of Freedom?’ The clear and present danger here is that the mob which will rally behind Imran’s so-called revolutionary manifesto might end up creating and perpetuating the same inequalities that they are campaigning against. It happened in the French Revolution, what’s to stop it from happening here?
Speaking of asset declaration, a neat little trick that many rich and famous people pull when trying to evade taxes or too many questions, is the valuation of immovable assets at cost price. This means that if a particularly wealthy scion wants to write off his 20-acre mansion, which daddy built him sometime during the early 70s, he will value said property at a ridiculously low Rs 1,000 per acre, or something like that. This is especially true for land that has been obtained on 99-year leases or other similar deals. So even the great Khan Mansion in the swanky (and rural) Islamabad suburb of Bani Gala can be valued at next to nothing, since it was “a gift”.
There would be nothing wrong with this, if the average Joe on the street were also able to do such things. Unfortunately, those who work hard for their money also have the disadvantage of buying things at full price. This means that even if I wanted to write off that house my dad brought in 1999 after having worked for 25 straight years, I couldn’t because my dad, not being a scion of a feudal family, did not acquire it on a 100-year lease at Rs 50 per year.
Come to think about it, this is exactly the kind of inequality Imran Khan says he will be fighting against. And I for one support him in this noble endeavour. I’ll just go now and get my papers ready, so when the mob sweeps into power, I too will have the right to value my Suzuki Cultus at Rs 20,000, because that’s how much I pay for it… every month.

27 COMMENTS

  1. nice article mate – i have no problem with anyone questioning PTIs policies. but on the same note i ask that you give the same attention to the mob that is currently in power.

    • Why do all PTI supporters think that critics of PTI policies live in a bubble. Over the past few years everyone has been foaming against Zardari, Sharif et al. Did you guys just miss that? And I hope you include the military in your "mob that is currently in power", if not then I am afraid you are kicking the donkey while the horse runs loose.

  2. @ Mr Zaidi

    This is the first article of yours that i have read and well it is 'refreshing' to see that yet another opinion maker has an opinion about Imran Khan. It will be indeed safe to say that you have made valid arguments though as as i mentioned, it is 'refreshing' to see someone being critical on 'real' aspects and not bringing in 'taliban khan', mr positive so on and so forth.

    I totally agree with the valuation of assets, that it must be done on the sale price and that a valuation must be done to show the sale price of an asset. There are no two ways to show this.

    But what i have consistently seen is that you included ( as one of the opinion makers or analysts) start with a topic which requires scrutiny in all repsects such as the freedom to write and to debate but somehow the 'ghost of Imran Khan' leads you all to make your opinions around him as if there is nothing in the world or Pakistan to support your arguments with. Why every article has raised an issue and then ends abruptly ( without giving any recourse mind you) spilling the mud on Imran Khan.

    I am sure you must have heard ' if not him then who?' And i follow the suit, i listen and i am still listening and reading very carefully, to find out, who the h*** are you all vouching for??? I am so anxious, that i cant sleep at nights that one day, i will read an article in which you all will give 'us' ( as in 'with Imran Khan') a better option to use our vote.

    As mentioned earlier, there can be no two ways to value your assets, it is absolutely wrong and i never believed he was this pious. But look at it another way, the other politicians have 'created' these undervalued assets using illegal or corrupt means and IK inherited or bought or was 'gifted' the assets. I know, two wrongs does NOT make a right, but in the south asian community that we belong to fortunately or unfortunately, no one will be spik and span, and i am not naive to this fact either. But choosing a lesser, a much much lesser evil in my own opinion is what makes me want to vote for him.

    I want to ask you, will you be voting in these elections? If yes, i assume you will not vote for IK. But the question is will you even vote then?

    And please, use this platform to 'recommend' as well, rather than 'criticize' all the time. You see issues all around you daily (other than IK) as well, write and enlighten us on those too. I am definitely not shunning you to NOT write or criticize him, but please have a bit of patience to research some other subject as well.

    I hope i wasn't rude, as these are my own opinions. I would like a reply if you find time.

    God bless.

    • Your candor and rationality are much appreciated, Imran. My problems with Imran Khan and PTI are more selfish and personal, which is why I never mention any of them in the pieces that I write. My MNA is PML-N's Umar Suhail Zia Butt, and I can refer you to my own article about him where I call him (among other things) "A capitalist fat cat)". I do not subscribe to the belief that there is NO ONE better than Imran Khan to rule Pakistan. This is because of purely administrative reasons. Imran's people do not have the necessary credentials, and I am convinced that left to his own devices, the megalomaniac at the helm of the party may well become another glorified dictator if given enough power and support.
      I do not opposed Imran Khan or the PTI for the sake of opposition. Show me clear policy directions and coherent choices for Cabinet Ministers and policy advisers and then we'll talk politics. Until then… I suggest PTI spends more time recruiting sound people like yourself.

      Much appreciated!

      • Thank you for taking your time out and giving importance to your readers. I appreciate it!

        I researched a little about Umar Suhail Zia Butt, and i found that he has indeed great credentials. Having said that, i noticed he must have pursued his political career after 2005 and therefore was elected as MNA in 2008 G.Elections. Now, is it safe to assume that a man who has had his education in economics, finance and BA is working wonders in the defense production and tourism? Well, if you are vouching for him and as he is your MNA, i assume he must have done something to impress you. My point being, what was his administrative qualities before 2008? To support my argument, there are many members of PTI who have excellent credentials and have had administrative experience in their respective fields. So to judge their administrative credentials, one needs to test them to run the state. Yes, running the state is a different ball game altogether, but as your MNA has had none and has 'done' something to impress you ( if not your family member) then there is in my opinion a greater chance for PTI's administrative success because of their experience in their respective fields. Now, i know everyone is not so sound in PTI too, but again, that makes me want to vote for them.
        As to your comment about clear policies, well, that can be a bit of a debate as i know some insiders in PTI who have a long, clear and potent agenda, but they are a bit skeptical to make it public as PML-N steals every word, every action that PTI commits to. Eg, the rally, the suddenly awakened Shahbaz for the 'Go Zardari Go' slogan, declaring assets etc etc. I am to be honest sick of seeing them in power and ABUSING it to its fullest! As for Cabinet members, well, i agree with you there, but i think no party has ever announced its Cabinet members before elections.
        Lastly, with the current administrative abilities of the current men/women in power have led this country to devastation and still Pakistan exists on the world map, i am SURE they will not be worse. Because there will be a slight difference, educated vs false degree's and i am sure you would vouch for an educated rather than saying, well, ' in some cases its the ability to lead and deal politically'. Please don't disappoint me.

        Thanking you again for your reply, i hope i did not misread your comment and i hope you understand what i mean.

        God bless!

        • Although you've misunderstood me somewhat, I like your style.
          Umar Suhail Zia Butt is 'my' current MNA (i.e. from my constituency, I'm sure even your constituency must have a sitting MNA). He is NOT my ideal in any way, shape or form, nor would I say that the PML-N is the ideal party for me. Neither are the PPP or PML-Q for that matter. However, these parties have a track record, PTI does not.
          I agree that no party reveals cabinet ministers and/or clear policy guidelines before the elections. But there is always speculation based on certain peoples' qualifications, so, for example, if PTI does come to power, there are only a handful of people who can be considered (from within PTI) for the portfolio of Foreign Minister, and so on. There seems to be a dearth of people who can share the "new vision" of Pakistan that the youth and IK himself seem to be espousing. When teaching an old dog new tricks, it is always a good idea to keep your expectations low. In sum, a major gap of technical expertise in governance, administrative, policy-making and strategy is a downside for the PTI.
          I would dispute the term "PTI insider", because from what I know of PTI and Imran Khan, the "one man show" label is quite accurate and PTI's political direction may change several times before it settles down to a coherent and uniform policy, depending on IK's mood on any given day. There is no speculation or heresy involved here, we all know Imran Khan, we've grown up watching him on and off the field.
          In terms of administrative qualities, I have no qualms in saying that, despite his intellectual shortcomings, Shahbaz Sharif is the most efficient administrator Punjab has encountered. I can say the same for Mustafa Kamal in Karachi. Even the PPP can boast of Raza Rabbani and (sort of) Aitzaz Ahsan. The question is not one of absolutes, there can be no "best" or "worst", only "better" and "worse".
          Lastly, the tragedy of our country is that politics is a personality-based game. People like Zulfiqar Mirza, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pir Pagaro et al are testament to the power of individual charisma over the masses of Pakistan. My contention is that the wave that PTI is currently riding stems from Imran Khan's cult of personality more than it comes from PTI being a mature and bankable political party.
          Unlike many other young people, I have the disadvantage of being a Literature student. Reading gives one perspective, something which is an essential pre-requisite for forming coherent thoughts. The trolls in the comments above and below did not have anything constructive to say, so they posted expletives. This is my problem with PTI in general too, they shoot first, ask questions later; or if they run out of answers, they become vindictive in their criticism.
          Having a debate with you, however, has been refreshing. I wish you all the best with your political ambitions, whatever they may be. Keep commenting, we need actual opinions to drive debate, not potty mouth Insafians.

          • I am indeed very grateful to you once again to reply and I apologize for the little misunderstanding as I was a bit skeptical myself that’s why I stated ‘I hope I did not misread your comment’

            I would like to comment on some points that you have risen in your commendable comment.

            In the my first comment, I enquired who will you be voting for, that is if you will exercise your voting right. And therefore, i am being forced to assume that as you despise all parties except for some ‘administrators’, you will not be voting or if you vote, they will be because of these ‘administrators’ but if you don’t, well…. That makes argument becomes more valid and you might be answering yourself there. Let me explain. You mentioned the ‘one man show IK’, well what difference is there in Shahbaz then, what difference is there in Mustafa Kamal then? Shahbaz is controlling, or rather, lets put it this way, ‘administrating’ 16 different departments himself. And well, I agree, he is sound in most of them and gets the job done, mostly! IK has been administrating his hospital, and now the newly built college, well running state is very different as I mentioned earlier, but still requires the same nerves as of running your own company which eventually feeds your family. Until and unless we do not ‘try’ them, we will never know. This word ‘try’ scares the living daylights out of me too, but I there is no abundance of choice. It is a dead end, at the moment at least!
            If there are only a handful of people who can be considered within PTI for the portfolio of a foreign minister, well I think you just need one! I do not believe that every ministry, when and if he comes into power, will be run by the best man, as you said yourself that it cant be best or worst, only better or worse and I still stand by my argument, that it will be better but definitely not worse.

            I agree that the PTI rides mainly because of Imrans charisma, and I think it has survived these past 15 years because of that too! In a Presidential form of elections, Imran would literally sweep the elections, but the new comers do have voting power if not charisma. Imran was always told not to get into politics because of its dirty nature in Pakistan, and now he is playing a bit of a dirty game himself, channeling the success of the 30 oct to bring in some much needed ‘names’/’faces’ to satisfy the election debate. If you see talk shows these days, PTI is now confident enough to show their ‘cards’ on live tv. You can compare on your tv screen, who I am vouching for, Imran Ismael, Raoof Hassan, Akbar Babar etc and they at least sound reasonable, well read and clear to what their agenda is at the moment. Time will tell, if they get an opportunity to show you or I if they were worth ‘this’ debate or not.

            Major gaps of technical expertise plus political expertise is being dealt with these days, many are joining! But then again, where will the ‘new Pakistan’ be which IK is vouching for? Well, I am not naïve to this slogan brother Zaidi. But there will be changes, and if these changes do not happen, the very people who will bring him in power by potty mouthing on articles like yours, will I think do more than just write and talk on these news sites and bring him down. Because I have never seen the amount of enthusiasm and positivism in young people when they talk about him, the disappointment will be much worse! I come from Lahore, and my friends who never had any interest in politics before, gathered all their families and friends and went with a spirit which even brightens my day to think. We have lacked inspiration as a nation, in every platform, may it be politics, sports, literature as you yourself will be a credible source to agree with me at least on literature. What inspires me is not IK, but the way he has ‘used’ and channeled all the anger of the people to direct it towards something ‘different’. What inspires me is the will to do the right thing that someone voices it and I have to bring this in my own personality to change myself first. I am not one of those who dreams of a Europe like Pakistan, and it will never happen in my opinion. But what can happen is; it can be a place where my children can have a better life than I have had. If he can do that, I am up for it! Nothing will happen whichever party comes to power, but at least they will have a sense of credibility compared to the swine’s who sit in the Parliament today.

          • I want to make it clear, that I have had no interest in politics up till last year. I am studying Chartered Accountancy in London and I am planning to come back next year for good. My father and grandfather used to have dinner table political debates which I was NEVER interested in What made me interested is, that I have realized that everyone has to play their role as you are too in your own way and that we all have to live in Pakistan, ( hey if join me you will not have to go Barbados 😉 haha). I never commented, shying away, or lacking debating skills as I always was one of the back benchers in a debate. But logic comes from within when you reason with yourself first and then ‘read’ and attain ‘perspective’ to form ‘coherent’ thoughts. I have found my logic in PTI through reason first, and then experiencing (reading and listening as well), and unless some better choice appears, I will gladly vote for PTI.

            God bless, stay always healthy and happy (and in Pakistan)!

          • I am indeed very grateful to you once again to reply and I apologize for the little misunderstanding as I was a bit skeptical that’s why I stated ‘I hope I did not misread your comment’

            I would like to comment on some points that you have risen in your commendable comment.

            In the my first comment, I enquired who will you be voting for, that is if you will exercise your voting right. And therefore, i am being forced to assume that as you despise all parties except for some ‘administrators’, you will not be voting or if you vote, they will be because of these ‘administrators’ but if you don’t, well…. That makes argument becomes more valid and you might be answering yourself there. Let me explain. You mentioned the ‘one man show IK’, well what difference is there in Shahbaz then, what difference is there in Mustafa Kamal then? Shahbaz is controlling, or rather, lets put it this way, ‘administrating’ 16 different departments himself. And well, I agree, he is sound in most of them and gets the job done, mostly! IK has been administrating his hospital, and now the newly built college, well running state is very different as I mentioned earlier, but still requires the same nerves as of running your own company which eventually feeds your family. Until and unless we do not ‘try’ them, we will never know. This word ‘try’ scares the living daylights out of me too, but I there is no abundance of choice. It is a dead end, at the moment at least!

          • If there are only a handful of people who can be considered within PTI for the portfolio of a foreign minister, well I think you just need one! I do not believe that every ministry, when and if he comes into power, will be run by the best man, as you said yourself that it cant be best or worst, only better or worse and I still stand by my argument, that it will be better but definitely not worse.

            I agree that the PTI rides mainly because of Imrans charisma, and I think it has survived these past 15 years because of that too! In a Presidential form of elections, Imran would literally sweep the elections, but the new comers do have voting power if not charisma. Imran was always told not to get into politics because of its dirty nature in Pakistan, and now he is playing a bit of a dirty game himself, channeling the success of the 30 oct to bring in some much needed ‘names’/’faces’ to satisfy the election debate. If you see talk shows these days, PTI is now confident enough to show their ‘cards’ on live tv. You can compare on your tv screen, who I am vouching for, Imran Ismael, Raoof Hassan, Akbar Babar etc and they at least sound reasonable, well read and clear to what their agenda is at the moment. Time will tell, if they get an opportunity to show you or I if they were worth ‘this’ debate or not.

          • Major gaps of technical expertise plus political expertise is being dealt with these days, many are joining! But then again, where will the ‘new Pakistan’ be which IK is vouching for? Well, I am not naïve to this slogan brother Zaidi. But there will be changes, and if these changes do not happen, the very people who will bring him in power by potty mouthing on articles like yours, will I think do more than just write and talk on these news sites and bring him down. Because I have never seen the amount of enthusiasm and positivism in young people when they talk about him, the disappointment will be much worse! I come from Lahore, and my friends who never had any interest in politics before, gathered all their families and friends and went with a spirit which even brightens my day to think. We have lacked inspiration as a nation, in every platform, may it be politics, sports, literature as you yourself will be a credible source to agree with me at least on literature. What inspires me is not IK, but the way he has ‘used’ and channeled all the anger of the people to direct it towards something ‘different’

          • . What inspires me is the will to do the right thing that someone voices it and I have to bring this in my own personality to change myself first. I am not one of those who dreams of a Europe like Pakistan, and it will never happen in my opinion. But what can happen is; it can be a place where my children can have a better life than I have had. If he can do that, I am up for it! Nothing will happen whichever party comes to power, but at least they will have a sense of credibility compared to the swine’s who sit in the Parliament today.

          • Major gaps of technical expertise plus political expertise is being dealt with these days, many are joining! But then again, where will the ‘new Pakistan’ be which IK is vouching for? Well, I am not naïve to this slogan brother Zaidi. But there will be changes, and if these changes do not happen, the very people who will bring him in power by potty mouthing on articles like yours, will I think do more than just write and talk on these news sites and bring him down. Because I have never seen the amount of enthusiasm and positivism in young people when they talk about him, the disappointment will be much worse! I come from Lahore, and my friends who never had any interest in politics before, gathered all their families and friends and went with a spirit which even brightens my day to think. We have lacked inspiration as a nation, in every platform, may it be politics, sports, literature as you yourself will be a credible source to agree with me at least on literature. What inspires me is not IK, but the way he has ‘used’ and channeled all the anger of the people to direct it towards something ‘different’. What inspires me is the will to do the right thing that someone voices it and I have to bring this in my own personality to change myself first. I am not one of those who dreams of a Europe like Pakistan, and it will never happen in my opinion. But what can happen is; it can be a place where my children can have a better life than I have had. If he can do that, I am up for it! Nothing will happen whichever party comes to power, but at least they will have a sense of credibility compared to the swine’s who sit in the Parliament today.

          • Major gaps of technical expertise plus political expertise is being dealt with these days, many are joining! But then again, where will the ‘new Pakistan’ be which IK is vouching for? Well, I am not naïve to this slogan brother Zaidi. But there will be changes, and if these changes do not happen, the very people who will bring him in power by potty mouthing on articles like yours, will I think do more than just write and talk on these news sites and bring him down. Because I have never seen the amount of enthusiasm and positivism in young people when they talk about him, the disappointment will be much worse! I come from Lahore, and my friends who never had any interest in politics before, gathered all their families and friends and went with a spirit which even brightens my day to think. We have lacked inspiration as a nation, in every platform, may it be politics, sports, literature as you yourself will be a credible source to agree with me at least on literature. What inspires me is not IK, but the way he has ‘used’ and channeled all the anger of the people to direct it towards something ‘different’.

  3. it's totally a biased article against PTI…….PTI is still much better than PML(N) AND PPP and many others in this country….now it's becoming a fashion to criticise imran khan and get cheap publicity but that will not last too long.

  4. valid point…bekar article…. personally i'm skeptical of anyone who is or wants to run the show coz there are too many factors to consider. the one mentioned in the article is one of them. i hope something be done in the next government ( who ever that maybe) regarding constructive criticism and implementing better public policy in a transparent manner and that there be some sanity check when it comes to popular opinion.
    PTI supporters may say that this what IK is promising but after all its just a promise and paki governments don't have a good track record of fulfilling the promises. So i m just skeptical but yeah i agree IK has better appeal and shout as compared to other actors 🙂

  5. I just saw a cartoon few days back in which an evaluator asked a fish, an elephant, a goat and a tiger "For fair selection, all would go through the same test, so everyone please climb the same tree next to you" …….. His assets are not so undervalued, the TV channel who managed to Air a report regarding his returns highlighted the 2007 Tax returns and PTI champion Haroon ur Rasheed (Urdu column writer) replied that at that time that land has lesser value.

    I would have appreciated if the writer had come up with some references for his data and findings ….. Also you cannot compare him with corrupt Zardari and Money Launderer Sharif ……….

    He may not be perfect, its just people find him better 🙂

  6. It’s a good piece with which I mostly agree and disagree with a little part of it.

    There’s no doubt that you cannot forge a sensible, constructive argument with PTI supporters. The desperation of Pakistani people for magical turn around of the fate of this country in the name of revolution has now started to border insanity. We never learn from history. And for all the tall claims, high hopes and plastic ambitions to create a new Pakistan, Karl Marx said which suits best the current situation. He said: History repeats itself. First as a tragedy, then as farce.

    But the part where I disagree is related to the valuation of immovable assets. Specific sections of Income Tax Ordinance clearly lay down the rules governing the valuation of property and how each and every single property in the name of you, your spouse, and children shall be mentioned in the wealth statement.

    When you still own the property, it’s valued at it’s historical/original cost only. But when you dispose it, the fair value appraisal is conducted and the gains are taxed. Similar sort of things applies to inherited property as well.

  7. The saving grace of your article is your humour. At least not the cynical crap that is on offer in the name of "realistic" analysis.

  8. If the rule says valuation at buy/sell cost, what has it to do with Imran Khan ? Did he make the law ?

    Please answer me.

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