LAHORE: Everybody talks about accountability and transparency in Pakistan, but every government — civilian or military — that has ruled Pakistan since 1958 has effectively ensured that there will never be a complete centralised documentation of the economy, landownership and tax records. Despite claims by NADRA and the passport issuing departments, the fact is that even these two vital national record-keeping agencies have not been documented digitally, nor are their records interlinked; otherwise, how could individual citizens hold two or more NICs or passports, when their fingerprints and irises have to be compulsorily recorded for issuance of a computerised national identity card and digitised passports?
Billions of the taxpayers’ money have been invested on the pretext of having computerised records, but the powerful land mafia and bureaucracy, which directly benefit from the black economy and undeclared assets, have ensured that other than mere political rhetoric, nobody dares compile a fully computerised record of land, assets, bank balances, etc. which require a NIC number for registration. With the exception of incomplete tenures of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, the hard reality is that General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and the PPP-led coalition that ruled for eight and five years, respectively, had more than enough time to compile a centralised documentation of the economy and national data records of all citizens of Pakistan and those foreigners who reside temporarily in this country.
Such records would not only ensure an increase in tax revenue receipts, but also help control the funding of terrorists and their entry or exit from Pakistan. Vital national interests of this country have been compromised at the altar of the insatiable greed of the corrupt institutions and individuals.
Malik Tariq Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2013.