On December 17, former president Pervez Musharraf was sentenced to death by a special court in a high treason case making him the first military dictator to be tried and convicted in court in Pakistan.
Musharraf came to power through a military coup in 1999. Due to his instigation of the state of emergency in 2007, charges were acquitted against him. The case dragged through the courts ever since 2014 and in 2016, Musharraf exiled himself to Dubai because of medical reasons, or what many believe an attempt to escape impeachment. He is currently seeking medical treatment there.
Despite his corruption-free employment record, the story of his rise as a billionaire is nonetheless one of intrigue.
The former army general’s memoir In The Line of Fire quotes him talking about humble beginnings in the household and not having sufficient money to pay for his family’s needs. Musharraf pens an example of this recalling a theft committed in his house and stealing his most “valuable” possession – his clothes,
“The thief was caught with the only thing of value we had – a bundle of clothes. While he was being thrashed, he cried out that he was poor and very hungry.”
From 1994 to 2008, he worked as a government officer and denied as a public office holder, ever having engaged in corruption, making money unlawfully, nor to purchasing any assets.
However, between 2008 and 2009, he bought an apartment in London for which he justified saying that King Abdullah paid him the money to buy. He was inquired about the amount in a talk show. When asked if the money given to him was 1.5 million dollars, as per the reports circulating in the media, he said,
“1.5 million dollars is not enough to buy property in London, its much more than that.”SAMAA TV
Numerous newspaper articles point to Musharraf’s alleged misuse of power in garnering assets worth billions of rupees. According to a news report by Fakhar Durrani, the former military dictator had accumulated billions in offshore accounts besides the property which he already purchased abroad or within the country. He never spoke about these assets and accounts even at the time of declaration while he was submitting nomination papers during elections of 2013.
The author goes on to note how no investigative agency nor the accountability bureau questioned him about how he managed to obtain billions worth of assets in his foreign accounts. The commission of inquiry appointed by the prime minister of the time in the wake of Panama Leaks has a larger scope.
Moreover, it also has the authority to question the former military dictator about how his offshore accounts had billions of rupees.
Sources also said that Musharraf had at least seven to ten offshore accounts in Dubai and London, housing huge cash in dollars, pounds and dirhams worth Rs2,156 million rupees in 2012. Presently, there is hardly any indication as to who has provided him the means and how he became the billionaire that he is.
Reports say the retired general had accumulated billions through offshore accounts besides the assets that he had already bought abroad or within Pakistan.
In 2018, Colonel Inamur Rahim alleged Musharraf of misusing his power and illegally allotting multiple expensive property to himself worth about Rs1,000 billion. As per the colonel’s request, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) began looking into the case. Reports also indicate that his current financial standing amounts to more than Rs250 crore.
It is important to mention here that upon inquiry into how he was able to make such expensive purchases, the ex president answered that post-retirement, he used to deliver exclusive lectures abroad. The lectures earned him a million dollars on average, he confirmed in a talk show.
A report by Ahmad Noorani said that he earned Rs20 million on retirement, however, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan, Musharraf himself admitted that his property worth was Rs626 million.
The alleged misuse of power and money is unfamiliar in the politics of Pakistan. With the ongoing dispute about Pervez Musharraf’s high treason case, a look into the retired general’s sceptical route to luxury becomes something to consider amidst the tension.