Pakistani legislators are not happy with the shocking asset-declaration exercise even they are required to do so once in a year.
Every Member of Parliament is bound to reveal his assets by September 30, but there are delays in submission required documents.
The memberships of those who fail to do so can be suspended until they submit their asset declarations. As many as 222 legislators including key federal ministers had been suspended in 2011 for not sharing assets.
According to a study, the parliamentarians are not candid in submitting their asset declarations. The lawmakers opted to remark ‘not applicable’ against important questions without mentioning solid reasons.
Numerous parliamentarians belonging to both the treasury and opposition benches in the recent 2010-11 declarations claimed that the value of their properties has not been changed since last year.
Their stance has not been changed despite the all too normal admiration and disparagement that takes place over time. The lawmakers did not bother to fill the columns requiring listing of the original cost and present market value.
Senator Rashid Ahmad, who is supposedly the richest parliamentarian on the basis of his declaration, refused to provide any statistics about the value of his coal and a soap stone mines and agricultural land. He only declared them worth of an unlimited value.
This simply means that some of the declarations are not as obvious as it should be. The lawmakers can make mockery of the declarations due to absence of any mechanism to scrutinize their documents.
Many parliamentarians, according to the value of their landed property, or business or urban property acquired abroad, are billionaires.
A couple of lawmakers, of which one belongs to Punjab while the other from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has revealed that they own no moveable or immoveable property. There are fairly well to do parliamentarians in between.
For instance, contesting elections is only possible for those who have enough money to spend in the promotional campaigns.
It will be difficult for a middle class candidate to enter the millionaires club that the Senate, the National Assembly and provincial assembly morphed into until election expenses are not brought under control through proper legislation.