Named politicians defend, downplay leaked data

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of an astounding volume of leaked data regarding properties owned by foreigners in Du-bai, some of the Pakistani politicians named in it on Tuesday night downplayed the development, claiming that there was nothing wrong with the practice and that properties under their name were already declared.
The released data provides a detailed overview of hundreds of thousands of properties in Dubai and information about their ownership or usage, largely from 2020 and 2022. It was obtained by the Center for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS), a non-profit organisation based in Washington, D.C., that re-searches international crime and conflict.
Prominent names include PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, his siblings Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari; wife of Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Ms Ashraf; Sindh Information Min-ister Sharjeel Memon; MNA Ikhtiar Baig; son of PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz; son of General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, Saad Siddique Bajwa; Senator Faisal Vawda, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, Akhtar Mengal and PML-N MNA Ehsanul Haq Bajwa.
The PPP said there was “nothing new or illegal” in the information since its chairman’s assets were al-ready publicly declared — a sentiment echoed by other politicians as well.
In a response issued an hour after the information was made public, Bilawal’s spokesperson Zulfikar Ali Bader said that the former foreign minister and Aseefa had already declared all their domestic and foreign property with the Election Commission of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue.
He added that the information was available on the ECP website as well.
“There is nothing new or illegal in this story. Apparently, this is neither news nor a scandal as the in-formation is already in the public domain,” Bader said.
He said it was public information that the two siblings had grown up in exile and lived in the same property mentioned in the report with their mother, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, going on to inherit it after her assassination.
“Any action or insinuation based on defamation will be challenged in the relevant forums,” Bader warned.
Meanwhile, Naqvi, the interior minister, said the Dubai property bought in his wife’s name was “fully declared and listed in tax returns”.
“It was also declared in returns submitted to the Election Commission as caretaker chief minister of Punjab. The property was sold a year ago, and a new property was purchased recently with the pro-ceeds,” he said.
PTI maverick Sher Afzal Marwat acknowledged that he owned an apartment in Dubai, adding that it was declared with all regulatory authorities such as the FBR and ECP for the past six years.
“It can be confirmed both with the FBR as well as ECP,” he said. –Agencies