‘No policy violated’
If you thought Aziz’s 393 was bad, how about 736?
By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday The News had reported that the former prime minister and billionaire, Shaukat Aziz, had walked away with bulging suitcases full of 393 state gifts bought at pawn shop rates. We stand corrected. It has transpired that the gentleman had actually taken 736 gifts worth price) with him on his last bye-bye Pakistan flight to London. The state booty included half a dozen more necklaces, 18 kt gold, gold coins, pearls, crowns, diamonds, Rolex watches, bracelets, carpets, Chinese pandas (presumably figurines because the list does not elaborate) etc after getting them massively undervalued by the obliging Cabinet Division evaluators.This has been revealed in the revised and updated final figures pertaining to the foreign gifts retained by the former prime minister during his three years tenure-mostly free of cost and some by paying only token money.One sources said, the total value of these 736 gifts, whose total price keeping the importance of those gifts given by the heads of foreign countries in the open market view, would easily be over Rs100 million, but it was priced at Rs25 million so that one of the richest prime ministers of our history with Rs7 billion declared assets with Election Commission of Pakistan could retain them free of cost.The new consolidated list reveals that Mr Aziz only deposited three gifts with the Toshakhana and took rest of 733 with him in his heavy suite boxes on his flight to London in the first week of January 2008, to decorate his multi-million dollars residences in London, Dubai and USA. The second part of this official plunder and loot of the state assets by Mr Aziz is more shocking, as the official documents revealed that the self-proclaimed “Mr Clean” even got one scarf, gifted by Governor Nepal priced only at a laughable price of Rs25 and retained it free of cost. One cannot even buy a local made Pakistani scarf from the Lunda Market at this price.As if the under valuing of this scarf was not enough, the fresh list of his total gifts shows that Mr Aziz got a jewelry box given by Prince of Wales Charles and Her Royal Highness Duchess of Cornwall gifted during their visit to Pakistan, priced at only Rs2,000 (14 pounds sterling). The royal couple would surely die of shame if they ever come to know the ëreal’ worth of their gift. The fresh list showed that four ball points purchased from the elitist London shopping store Harrods were priced at Rs200 each (one and half pound). During his visit to China, a jewelry box (Najeonchilgi lacquerware inlaid with Mother of Pearl) gifted to Mr Aziz was priced at Rs6,500 only and he retained it free of cost.Interestingly, during his reign, Mr Aziz used to claim that he did not take the salary from the Government of Pakistan so as not to put any burden on national kitty. But now it has surfaced that it was more preferable for this nation to pay him monthly salary of about Rs100,000 (Rs3.6 million in three years) instead of free gifts worth Rs25 million (official rate.Mr Aziz soon after becoming the prime minister had visited Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah along with the brigade of his loyalist ministers, secretaries and officials — who are now understandably mum —with the tall claim that he had paid the expenditures from his pocket. But, later the National Assembly was informed in the question hour that honourable PM Aziz had lied to the whole nation as over Rs10.87 million were paid to him from the government accounts. His claim to pay the Umrah expenditure only proved to be a deceptive publicity stunt.Mr Aziz even got one gift of jewelry set given by state minister of sports Sudan priced at Rs35,00 only, pair of lady shoes for Rukhsana Aziz Rs2,000, secretary communication also gave one gift of Longines watch No l4 70943349102 valued at only Rs25,000. One crown given by ambassador of Korea was priced at Rs9,000 and given to Mr Aziz free of cost.The sources said a special method was evolved to facilitate Mr Aziz as the prices of many foreign gifts were even priced equivalent to pirated editions available in Pakistan. For example, two CDs given by prime minister of Norway were priced at Rs200 each while in the Western markets, one original CD is available at minimum rate of 30 pounds. One cannot even buy a CD from the loot sale of big stores at the price at which Mr Aziz got it evaluated. Likewise, the necklace pearl given by PM Bangladesh was priced at shocking price of Rs10,000. One tea set by Begum Khalida Zia was priced at Rs5,000. Dagger in gold was valued at Rs129,200, one sword by Duma Mossco was priced at Rs4,000, one necklace given by prime minister of Sri Lanka Rs5,000. Two lockets of gold and diamonds given by prime minister of Sri Lanka was priced at Rs14,700. One sword by crown prince of Bahrain was Rs9,000 and once necklace (pearl) Rs15,000. The King of Saudi Arabia gave Aziz second costly gift of one gold jewelry set, diamond, ruby, one necklace, one bracelet, pair of ear rings and one ring valued at Rs3.2 million. Mr Aziz took it with him to London.Council of Qattar International Islamic Bank tried to match the generosity of the Saudis as it gave Mr Aziz one wrist watch Rolex Rs13,00,000, wrist watch Epos Rs65,000, Ball point Harrods Rs800, two green/gold pens Rs600 each, four ball points Harrods Rs250 each, perfume deep Rs1,500, sword by prince Abdul Aziz Saud Chairman Watan Group Rs19,750. Higher Education of UAE gave wrist watch Piaget Rs375,000, wrist watch chopard Rs120,000, Chairman Capital Investment Overseas Abu Dhabi, gave one wrist watch Rolex 1.2 million and Mr Aziz is wearing it these days. President of UAE also gave generously when be gave one gents wrist watch Rolex Rs0.5 million. Azerbijan deputy prime minister gave one gold commemorative coin which was also kept by Aziz free of cost instead of giving it to the Government of Pakistan. President of UAE gave second gift of one wrist watch Rolex Rs928,000, one table clock Rs40,000, one wrist watch Rolex Rs885,000 and Mr Aziz took them all to London.These expensive gifts were not the end of the long list of expensive gifts Mr Aziz took with him on his last flight from Islamabad to London, as he did not even spare a gift of only Rs25 to retain it what to talk of other expensive gifts.But because of the paucity of space, the shocking details of those gifts cannot be reproduced in these columns otherwise, Mr Aziz turned out to be one and the only prime minister in the history of Pakistan, who was given 736 gifts and except only three, he took away all the remaining with him. Thank you prime minister for going when you did because otherwise this list may have run into thousands of cheap gifts.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Yesterday I was reading Shireen Mazari's article in The News and she mentioned of Pakistani origin French dress designer - Mahmood Bhatti.
"Appointment of political envoys, a questionable tradition when it becomes the norm rather than a means of recognising exceptional talent such as Dr Lodhi, has gone into the area of the bizarre with the new trend of putting in political appointees even as first secretaries. Now we have the ridiculous situation of sending in a Grade 20 DMG officer as an envoy to France – a position normally reserved for one of the most senior diplomats. But there is a darker agenda here that now seems to be becoming more obvious: the sale of Pakistan House. For some time now the designer Bhatti has been seeking to purchase this and it has been rumoured that the present leadership is keen to sell this valuable property. So is it a mere coincidence that the DMG gatecrasher is a close friend of Mr Bhatti? There are many other rumours also linked to this gentleman, and they will eventually surface. Suffice it to say that in an environment when democracy is merely a facade for a civilian autocrat, the 'right' familial connections are becoming the ultimate criteria for rewards at the expense of the state and nation."
Mooda Bhatti (Mooday - as we called him) was a spoiled student of Government College of Science, Wahdat Road way back in 1973-1977. He was expelled from college for being caught playing "Flash" right on the roof of college principal. He appeared as a private student for BA exam and cleared it "miraculously" without any class attended in his 4 years college stay. Later he left for France and the rest is a rags to riches story - how from a garments factory cleaner he became factory owner. Now he wants to buy a prime real estate in Paris currently owned by Pakistan at a throwaway price - thanks to the connections he made over in Pakistan with his money and fashion shows. These also helped him to get prestigious "Sitara i Imtiaz". Bhatti Saab lage raho and get Pakistan House dirt cheap to convert it to a hotel in partnership with your so called papa - Hashwani saab. Who said Pakistan is self-sufficient in greed and self-projection at the cost of damaging the interests of Pakistan?