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Overseas Pakistanis take unique initiative

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 By Murtaza Ali Shah (The News report)

STUTTGART (Germany): Top Pakistani business leaders in Europe have announced that they will work in sync against corrupt Pakistanis who loot money from Pakistan and hide it in the safe havens of Europe.

 At a meeting held here, senior Pakistani businessmen and community activists from various European cities announced that they would create awareness amongst overseas Pakistanis and approach the European governments against rise in the number of Pakistani politicians, businessmen and civil and military bureaucrats who are increasingly making their way to the European countries such as Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, France and Brussels to horde the ill-gotten money, fleeced from Pakistan’s national exchequer.

 This money is stored in Europe in safe offshore accounts, under company names, and directly in accounts opened by the wealthy men. Many of these individuals are snapping up properties mainly in London, Geneva and Germany and investing in businesses, using a complex network of companies and individuals to hide their identity in some cases.

 Syed Khurram Raza, a Germany-based Pakistani businessman, Amjad Khan and Syed Qamar Raza, leading London-based businessmen with interests in retail and food business, Chaudhary Akram Minhas from Belgium, Chaudhary Shafiq, Sheikh Muneer and Agha Zahid from Germany agreed that the movement against corruption will be launched under the banner of Pakistan Overseas Association Forum (POAF).

 The initiative has the support of many other businessmen and leading community activists from a cross-range of political parties who are sick at the chutzpah of Pakistanis who rush their wealth out of Pakistan, almost certainly made through corruption and plunder, which has become a common phenomenon in today’s Pakistan. The initiative has wide support from key community figures as well as lawyers who have volunteered to take up cases on behalf of POAF.

The business leaders announced that they would launch a drive in their respective cities to create awareness amongst the Pakistani communities to name and shame the “crooked” individuals and also increase the membership of the forum and bring on board people from different professions with impeccable credentials who will have a leading role in the movement against corruption.

They agreed that money would be raised for any legal action against those who are either being sought in Pakistan on account of their illegal activity of money laundering or those who have brought the money from Pakistan and have invested in businesses in London or elsewhere on the basis of evidence.

“There is a strong need to socially boycott such people who live a life of extreme luxury in Europe while Pakistan suffers because of their misdeeds,” said Syed Khurram Raza in his speech.

“Such people need to be hounded, named and shamed publicly. This will be a service to Pakistan.” Amjad Khan, who owns a chain of 150 restaurants in the UK, said that a fund would be created to support legal actions, whether launched by the Government of Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or individuals who will seek to challenge the corrupt individuals and groups.

“Pakistan gave everything to its politicians and bureaucrats but it is because of them that Pakistan today is destabilised. As overseas Pakistanis it is our duty to expose their wrong practices and confront those individuals who are corrupt and have made money at the cost of Pakistan’s national interest. There are millions of us in Europe who are in a better position to challenge the looters.”

Syed Qamar Raza said that a movement would be launched to engage with public, politicians and the western governments to cooperate with the anti-corruption drive.

“Western institutions need to show that they have ethical principles. They should question those individuals who bring millions to them for investment from Pakistan. It is hypocritical of the western governments and banking institutions to remain silent on the looted wealth of Pakistani individuals.”

Akram Minhas vowed that POAF branches would be set up in every European capital to take the movement forward.

“We are worried about the future of Pakistan and cannot sit on the sidelines while a few individuals are literally bankrupting Pakistan in every sense of the word. It is time for us to take a stand

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