Why iqama is worse than Panama

Published: August 1, 2017

ISLAMABAD: As we all know at this point, Nawaz Sharif has been ousted from the post of prime minister for the third time. But to many people, it’s still unclear what actually led to his disqualification by the Supreme Court. But we can come to the conclusion that it has much to do with iqama, or work permit.

According to Nawaz Sharif’s lawyers, the purpose of the former PM’s employment in UAE-based Capital FZE, was solely to secure an iqama — a work visa — which would allow him easy access to the Gulf state ‘in his years in exile’.

The iqamas of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif have also been uncovered. Also, former presidents Asif Ali Zardari and General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah, PPP’s Maula Bux Chandio and a few PTI leaders reportedly hold iqama.

The issue of our politicians being iqama holders is not a trivial one. Wealthy Pakistanis use a UAE iqama to register themselves with Swiss or foreign banks so that they can show themselves as tax residents in the UAE. Account holders are reported by banks on the basis of residency rather than nationality.

This evasion in accountability and reporting vis-à-vis iqama is extremely problematic and must be condemned.

Shahid Akmal

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2017.

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