Where Are Pakistan’s Millionaire Politicians?


Thursday, 19 August 2010.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—This is a lesson for the whole Pakistani nation. If you are a Pakistani reading this, please tell others.

While the world’s rich dole out money to help Pakistan’s flood victims, Pakistan’s rich political elite refuses to budge. By now we should have been seeing members of this ruling elite buying tents, building shelters and providing gallons of clean drinking water to the homeless millions.

But in every flooded district of the country, you will see Pakistani civilian and military volunteers. But not the politicians.

Consider this:

On the first day of a nationwide Saudi campaign to raise funds for the victims of floods in Pakistan on Monday, 17 Aug. 2010:

–         King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdelaziz Al Saud, donated US$5.3 million from his private money to Pakistan flood victims

–         Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdelzziz Al Saud gave away US$2.7 million from his private money

–         Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdelaziz Al Saud gave away two million Saudi riyals

–         Governor of Tabouk donated one million Saudi Riyals

–         Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdelaziz Al Saud gave ten million Saudi riyals

–         Businessman Eesa bin Mohammad al Eesa, president of the Samba Financial Group, donated two million Saudi riyals

This is not to mention the sight of Saudi women who thronged public aid collection camps in different Saudis cities and were photographed by the international media donating their jewelry to King Abdullah’s campaign in support of Pakistan.

Compare this to the reaction of the Pakistani elite:

–         Pakistan’s president, a billionaire in dollar terms by some accounts, is yet to donate anything or even be seen donating anything anywhere. There were reports he donated Rs. five million to a fund named after his son and daughter, and only Rs. one million to the government fund. This is less than what he might have spent wandering in France and Britain earlier this month.

–         The most shocking part is that the PPPP is trying to milk large companies out of relief money for private party funds. This means that the party is quietly trying to direct aid money to private funds rather than relief funds run by the government or the Pakistani military. The ruling party is reported to have convened a meeting in the business hub city of Karachi where leading businessmen were asked to donate to a Bakhtawar Fund, named after the president’s elder daughter. The meeting was chaired by president’s sister, senator Faryal Talpur. But she failed to get a pledge for a single rupee from any attending businessmen.

–         The Sharif family has donated Rs. 10 million, which is peanuts compared to what the family could have donated. Not to mention that no one knows how this amount will be spent. Pakistanis are yet to see any member of the Sharif clan seeing off trucks carrying relief goods or opening clean water plants in the affected areas.

–         None of the one thousand members of the federal and provincial parliaments have been sighted at any of the affected regions helping people or distributing aid. If anything, a few of the shameless politicians were quick to jump in front of visiting TV crews. One of them, from Sindh, was seen seated in a boat run by the army for the media giving out an interview to a leading anchor. The politician was pretending as if he was organizing the rescue operations in Sindh.

–         Forget helping people, a senior member of the PPPP from Balochistan is accusing two influential feudal members of PPPP Sindh of diverting flood waters to Balochistan and creating a humanitarian crisis there to save their vast landholdings in Sindh. This is a serious allegation that merits investigation and stern punishment if proven. But who will do it? And what is more important: private feudal landholdings or the lives of thousands of poor people? Don’t ask Pakistani politicians, obviously.

–         An unusual situation in Pakistan is that the country’s closed club of political elite monopolizes large chunks of the economy. So these politicians control everything, benefit from inflation, pay no taxes and are under no obligation to donate generously when fellow countrymen are in need.

–         The Pakistan Army donated a day’s salary of its soldiers, who come from poor backfrounds, for the relief effort. No politician is yet to take a similar step. And we are talking about a bunch of people who arrive at the federal parliament in Islamabad in expensive imported luxury cars, wearing expensive watches and jewelry and looking awash in wealth.

–         The millionaires and billionaires in the Pakistani business community, unlike the politicians, are donating directly to the victims in the affected areas but refuse to route the money through the coffers of a government run by this political elite.

The conclusion is this: while the country reels under a humanitarian tragedy, it is the Pakistani middle class, the Pakistani business class, a couple of religious charities and the armed forces that have come to the rescue of their fellow countrymen during a disaster. They will always step up to help their countrymen.

Pakistan’s politicians, among them the nation’s richest, will disappeared in a flash during a crisis like they have done now.


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  • Javaid Ahmed  On August 21, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Excellent write up.They must lead by example.But will they?Doubtful.

  • NBS  On August 21, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Where da eff are dey… ???

  • naveed tajammal  On August 21, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Our Business classes are the old hide merchants of Calcutta,madras & Bombay presidencies ,when the katri hindu,and the aurora sikh left,in pre and post 1947, they jumped in,with a long sketched,background of an association with the town of Chiniot,as if we do not recall the background ,of how and when the fort of chandini kot was made.
    now had they claimed Behara the old river port,yes their contentions would have held some water.but crooks they are,and hence the attitude. as to our class of dynastic politicians the less said the better.

  • Tariq Ikram  On August 21, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I am sure there must b some who did rise to the occasion and even some wanting to do it annonymously…… one person missed out is ex president musharraf who i think donated 1 crore? ……. but that this absence of donations by politicians is true for most, should be no suprise…. remember they are here after clossal expense in electioneering, they are now here to take not give !! Goodness?? you must be joking… on a lighter note i am reminded of a saying ….”if the world knew of the motives that inspire our good deeds, we would often be ashamed of our selves” Tariq Ikram

  • Omar Ahmad  On August 27, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Totally agree with you Tarik. These politicians are here for 1 thing and that is to get rich, hence they are takers, not givers. I am surprised that you expect anything from them, come on, wake up and smell the coffee. It is time to stop expecting anything constructive from these fake degree clowns. We need to rely on ourselves and make a difference. What have we done on a personal level for the flood victims ? If you can only answer that question in the negative then please think, strategise, plan and then act accordingly – there is an urgent need for food, medication, clothing and reconstruction . . .

  • BBC  On October 5, 2011 at 4:26 am

    One year on and we haven’t moved an inch forward. Floods again. While we were doubting the allegations of Osama in Pakistan, he is found and killed in Pakistan. Our policy on Baluchistan is pathetic. The sardars still have their private jails and do not allow the development of the place in any way possible. Wonder why no one talks about it. The media seems to be scared of raising the issues of Feudalism and Lawlessness, wonder why?

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