mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Shockingly Few Pakistanis, Political Elites Pay Taxes

“Know that whatever of a thing you acquire, a fifth of it is for Allah, for the Messenger, for the near relative, and the orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer” — Quran, Sura 8.

The khums, the 20 percent tax, is one of the five pillars of Islam. It requires all Muslims who can to give 20 percent of their profits (or spoils of war) to the poor and needy. You would think, then, that Islamic countries would be serious about taxation—or that the political elite especially would set an example for their citizens that paying taxes is the right thing to do.

Not so in Pakistan. A study by investigative journalist Umar Cheema found that a shocking number of Pakistanis don’t pay taxes at all. AFP has the story:

Only 260,000 out of 180 million citizens have paid tax consecutively for the last three years, according to the Federal Board of Revenues (FBR). . . .

According to Cheema’s findings, President Asif Ali Zardari did not file a tax return in 2011 and neither did 34 of the 55 cabinet members including Interior Minister Rehman Malik. . . .

Of the 20 cabinet ministers who did pay, most made only negligible contributions, including Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, with Rs142,536 and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar with Rs69,619. . . .

Among all the lawmakers in the upper and lower houses of the federal parliament, 67% failed to file tax returns in 2011; 28% did and five percent were not possible to verify, according to the report.

It also found that 78 members of parliament are still not registered with a national taxation number.

Pakistan’s corrupt and incompetent political class serves as the houseboy for the military in exchange for the freedom to steal from the state. Surely few more deadly insults to Islam exist in the world today than the claim that this shambolic arrangement constitutes an “Islamic” republic.

If this political “elite” had any shame, it would have changed this name long ago, but it is abundantly clear that shame is one of the qualities the elite does not possess.

Features Icon
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service