Is CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Bajwa Guilty as Alleged?

Pakistani reporter Ahmad Noorani has recently alleged that "(T)he growth of the Bajwa family’s business empire in the United States and later in Pakistan directly matches the rise in power of retired general Asim Saleem Bajwa, who is now chairman of the country’s massive China-financed infrastructure project and a special assistant to the prime minister". “Out of total 99 companies, 66 are main companies, 33 companies are branch companies of some of the main companies, while five companies are dead now,” Ahmad Noorani alleges, adding that the businesses of the Bajwa family have been put under the umbrella called Bajco Group. Noorani ignores many well-known Pakistani immigrant success stories in US restaurant franchise business and jumps to the conclusion that Nadeem Bajwa's success must be built on his brother's alleged corruption in Pakistan. Noorani does not offer any evidence to back up his allegations.

Papa John's Franchisee Nadeem Bajwa

Who is Nadeem Bajwa?

Nadeem Bajwa is General Saleem Bajwa's younger brother. While it is true that Nadeem Bajwa owns a large Papa Johns' franchise business in the United States, there is nothing to support the allegation that this business has been built with funds stolen and remitted from Pakistan. Nadeem Bajwa's story is, in fact, typical of many successful Pakistani immigrants who have worked hard to achieve entrepreneurial success in America.  The best example of a Pakistani immigrant's franchise success story is that of Shoukat Dhanani whose Dhanani Group's annual revenue is over $2 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Nadeem Bajwa's Success Story:

Nadeem Bajwa came to the United States as a student in 1991. He took a job as a pizza delivery driver for Domino's while going to college in Indiana. “The delivery driver job was one of the easiest when going to school,” Bajwa told Nation's Restaurant News in 2014. “There wasn’t a lot of stress or pressures and other students were doing it. I heard they made good pay, and every day you just deliver pizzas and make decent tips.”

In 1994, Bajwa took a job with Papa John’s as a driver, was quickly promoted to general manager and then operating partner within 10 months — all while continuing his education. “I was busy, and then when I got promoted I was still finishing up school,” he said. “But when you have goals in mind, you just keep going. Sometimes anxiety isn’t such a bad thing.”  Bajwa signed his first franchise in 2002 and then grew his business from there.

The very next year he signed a deal to develop 10 locations in Pittsburgh. He bought three locations in 2004, and then opened 10 units in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 he bought a 27-unit Papa John’s operator in Michigan and Indiana — the very same operator for whom he used to work.This is how most franchisees build their business. This is not at all unusual. Many franchisees start out as employees, get promoted and then become franchise owners. It's partly because franchisors prefer their franchisees to have prior business experience running a franchise.

Franchise Financing:

The franchisees such as Nadeem Bajwa's main asset is the prior franchise operations experience they bring. Franchisee and his/her partners/investors must also come up with 10-20% of the total funds needed to start operations. The rest of the money comes from commercial banks or other lenders such as the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Borrower must be creditworthy, typically must contribute some equity, and are expected to repay the loan out of the franchise's cash flow. The franchise loans from US Small Business Administration (SBA) offer the lowest rates. Some franchisers may also offer internal financing, according to Wall Street Journal.

Panama Leaks Dominated By Politicians:

Pakistani politicians and their supporters use allegations of corruption in Pakistani military to distract attention from their own well-documented corruption. Just a quick look at the names in leaked Panama Papers shows that politicians, not generals, dominate these lists. Pakistani names included in Panama Papers are those of several politicians and business people, but no generals, according to media reports.

 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is linked to 9 companies connected to his family name. Those involved are:  Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz, Relatives of Punjab Chief Minister and brother of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif are linked to 7 companies. They are: Samina Durrani and Ilyas Meraj.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was linked to one company. Her relatives and associates are linked to others: Nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery Javed Pasha, Close friend of Asif Ali Zardari (4 companies), PPP Senator Rehman Malik (1 company), PPP Senator Osman Saifullah’s family (34 companies), Anwar Saifullah, Salim Saifullah, Humayun Saifullah, Iqbal Saifullah, Javed Saifullah, Jehangir Saifullah. The Chaudharies of Gujrat have not been linked personally but other relatives have including: Waseem Gulzar Zain Sukhera (co-accused with former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son in the Hajj scandal).

Pakistani Businessmen in Panama Leaks: Real Estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain’s son (Bahria Town) Ahmad Ali Riaz (1 company), Chairman ABM Group of Companies Azam Sultan (5 companies), Pizza Hut owner Aqeel Hussain and family (1 company), Brother Tanwir Hassan Chairman Soorty Enterprise Abdul Rashid Soorty and family, Sultan Ali Allana, Chairman of Habib Bank Limited (1 company), Khawaja Iqbal Hassan, former NIB bank President (1 company), Bashir Ahmed and Javed Shakoor of Buxly Paints (1 company), Mehmood Ahmed of Berger Paints (1 company), Hotel tycoon Sadruddin Hashwani and family (3 companies), Murtaza Haswani Owner of Hilton Pharma, Shehbaz Yasin Malik and family (1 company), The Hussain Dawood family (2 companies), Shahzada Dawood Abdul Samad Dawood Partner Saad Raja, The Abdullah family of Sapphire Textiles (5 companies), Yousuf Abdullah and his wife, Muhammad Abdullah and his wife, Shahid Abdullah and his family, Nadeem Abdullah and family, Amer Abdullah and family, Gul Muhammad Tabba of Lucky Textiles, Shahid Nazir, CEO of Masood Textile Mills (1 company), Partner Naziya Nazir Zulfiqar Ali Lakhani, from Lakson Group and owner of Colgate-Palmolive, Tetley Clover and Clover Pakistan (1 company) and Zulfiqar Paracha and family of Universal Corporation (1 company).

Pakistani Judges in Panama Leaks: Serving Lahore High Court Judge Justice Farrukh Irfan, Retired Judge Malik Qayyum, Pakistani Media personnel in Panama Leaks: Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman of GEO-Jang Media Group (1 company).
Politicians Dominate Off-shore Company Owners in Panama Leaks 

NED Alum as Restaurant Franchisee:

At a panel I attended at NED Alumni Convention in Houston, I met Tabassum Mumtaz, an NED alum, whose story is similar to Nadeem Bajwa's. He decided to try his luck as an entrepreneur outside of engineering.  Tabassum started working as a cook for Long John Silver and, through his hard work, ended up owning the entire chain of the seafood restaurants. In addition, Tabassum is a grand franchisee of A&W, KFC and Taco Bell restaurants in some regions of the country run under Ampex Brands.  The annual revenue from the restaurants exceeds a billion dollars.

Dhanani Group:

Shoukat Dhanani came from Pakistan to attend college in the United States. His story is similar to that of Nadeem Bajwa, a classic tale of entrepreneurship, and how a hard-working family can build a giant, and highly successful, business without venture capital or private equity money, according to Forbes magazine. The group today includes 130 convenience stores in the Houston area, 502 Burger Kings and 170 Popeyes. It remains 100% family owned and operated. “We always believed in staying low-key and under the radar,” Dhanani told Forbes. “That’s what our dad taught us.”


There is no evidence to support the allegation by reporter Ahmad Noorani that Papa John's franchisee Nadeem Bajwa's success is built on funds illegally taken and remitted by his brother General Asim Bjawa in Pakistan. Nadeem Bajwa's franchise success story is not in any way unique. There are many Pakistani immigrants who came to the United States to study, worked at a franchise restaurant part-time and  then became successful multiple franchise owners. The most prominent among these Pakistani immigrant entreprenrurs is Shoukat Dhanani of Dhanani Group that does over $2 billion a year business.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Did Musharraf Steal Public Money? 

Pakistani Leaders in London After Panama Leaks

Edible Arrangements: A Pakistani-American Franchisor's Success Story

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Zardari Corruption Probe

President Pervez Musharraf's Legacy

We Hang Petty Thieves and Appoint Great Ones to High Offices

Capitalism's Achilles Heel by Raymond Baker

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said…
L.A. Parker: From Pakistan to U.S. chicken king is hard work

Story of Ali S. Butt, owner of Louisiana Popeye Chicken franchises

The popular Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World may have a real challenger in a Pakistan-born Popeyes chicken franchisee and owner up to his elbows in U.S. success.

Difficulty occurred listening to businessman Ali S. Butt recount his 44-year life as perfectly pitched story lines altered places to begin his beginning.

Numerous starting points materialized as Ali narrated his exodus from Pakistan with dreams about U.S. success to finding a mother lode of good fortune.

“I had friends who always talked about the United States, it’s greatness, and the opportunity. This country inspires a person to succeed. People willing to work hard can always make a life here,” Ali explained.

On a recent rainy Tuesday, Ali sat inside his newly opened Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant on South Broad St.

His latest venture represented a kind of back to the future for the building as Ali’s new enterprise replaced a Kentucky Fried Chicken business.

Even with wind and rain, by products of a nor’easter that affected travel, a steady parade of customers entered as Ali discussed early low paying jobs that fueled destiny.

For his U.S. dream, whatever work worked. Even now with 20 restaurant franchises throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York, Ali hustles.

Keeping even this evening appointment meant a rush away from Morrisville, Pa., home to the next Ali restaurant opening.

“During those early jobs, the focus was on making money to send back home. I needed to help support my parents and brothers,” Ali explained.

Ali and his wife, Arian Rahmani, in 1999, opened their first Popeyes in Hamilton Township.

Arian handled cashier and other front of house duties while Ali controlled kitchen activity. They worked long hours, attracted by a belief that success needed both time and maximum effort.

Ali credited his father, Abdul Hamid, for grinding work habits.

However, this father/son relationship shared common ideas regarding philanthropy.

“My father helped people in Pakistan. He owned a construction business but also made a habit out of giving,” Ali noted.

“My father always instructed me to keep doing good deeds. I learned that putting a smile on somebody’s face also puts one on mine.”

Ali needed an intervention by friend, Sherwood Brown, for revelation about his generosity to community and employees.

“Ali’s the guy who helps that person you see or don’t see on a corner. He gives a lot of people their first job or second chance,” Brown noted.

Employees range in age from 17 to 50, including Ewing High senior Tavon Ross who enjoys his first job.

When Ali and his wife opened their North Olden Ave. store in 2009, his father visited from Pakistan.

“Just proud. So proud. Every father and mother wants the best for their children. My father got to see me in action because so much goes on for a grand opening,” Ali said.

Ali plays a father-like role with his workers, always asking for their best performances.

“If I can come from 7,000 miles with no mother and no father and succeed then you can make a better life,” serves as Ali’s tasty inspiration.

“I want my employees to be better, to be great in the greatest country in the world. But success means you have to work.”
Riaz Haq said…
Top 100 Private Company CEO: Aslam Khan finds restaurant success by building relationships

Aslam Khan has never been averse to hard work and he has embraced every job, no matter how menial, as an opportunity.

It is that attitude that fueled a rags-to-riches tale that he couldn’t even imagine during his impoverished childhood in rural Pakistan.

Now a multimillionaire who built an empire in restaurant franchising, he continues to look back over his shoulder to those treks of more than four miles over treacherous terrain to attend elementary school in the hope of a better life.

“In middle school, it was five to six miles, going barefoot in the cold, hot,” he said. “I didn’t give up.”

As the only one in his family of 10 children to attend school, Khan made his way into the world beyond his native village and had an opportunity to settle for a comfortable life years ago. But Khan was – and is – not one to settle. He had big dreams, which motivated him to go further and accomplish more.

Khan’s determination to succeed paid off. He earned a reputation as the King of Church’s Fried Chicken because he is the largest franchise holder in the fast-food chain. His business acumen, work ethic and people-first philosophy helped propel him into entrepreneurial success with Falcon Holdings LLC, a multi-brand franchise company he started in Westlake in 1999 in partnership with Sentinel Capital Partners.

Under his leadership, Falcon has grown fivefold and now owns 350 restaurants and has 200 more under management. Aside from his Church’s Chicken franchises, Falcon operates restaurants in the Hardees, Carl’s Jr., Long John Silver and Piccadilly Cafeteria chains.

Khan’s experience and track record in the often-challenging franchise and restaurant industry recently landed him another opportunity: CEO of Dallas-based casual restaurant chain TGI Fridays, of which Sentinel is majority shareholder.

Khan, 63, said he was approached by TGI Fridays, which operates more than 900 restaurants in 61 countries. He will retain his position with Falcon while working with Fridays.

“I am thrilled that they picked me,” he said. “I will do an excellent job for them.”

Organization leaders have full confidence in his ability.

“Aslam has a deep understanding of and proven record managing relationships, which he brings to our franchise owners, who own and operate more than 90 percent of our 470 U.S. locations,” said John Antioco, former CEO and a member of Fridays’ board of directors, in a statement.

Having worked alongside Khan for 20 years, John McCormack, co-founder and senior partner of Sentinel, said he is “an extraordinary transformational restaurant executive.”

Khan said his role is to deliver for TGI’s Fridays what he has mastered through his own operation: strengthening operations, adding innovative marketing, motivating employees and providing outstanding customer service.

His experience as an immigrant driven to succeed has made him compassionate about helping others like himself. He rewards his top achievers by guiding them to become managing partners of their own franchises.
Riaz Haq said…
The franchise king who wants to turn folks into millionaires

Many entrepreneurs consider Aziz Hashim the evangelist for the $1.5 trillion U.S. franchising industry. A successful multi-unit franchise owner who’s worked in the industry from the age of 14, Hashim is now chairman of the International Franchise Association. He spends most of his time helping ordinary folks launch and grow franchises in the United States and Canada through his management company and his $50 million private equity fund, NRD Partners. His goal: to pay it forward.

“Franchising is a great way to attain the American dream,” Hashim said.

He learned this firsthand. A Pakistani immigrant, Hashim worked his way through the University of California-Irvine and earned an electrical engineering degree while working part-time at his uncle’s Burger King in Los Angeles. But after landing a job at Rockwell International, he quickly realized he didn’t like the corporate world and being an entrepreneur was what he really wanted to do.

So in 1996 his parents mortgaged their house and gave him their life savings so he could buy a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. As he recalls, “I made a cold call to KFC, and at first they said no, but then they changed their minds. When they called me back and offered me a one-store license for downtown Atlanta, I had no idea how I’d do it, but I jumped on it.”

“I love the pace of the quick-service food business but realized if I opened ‘Aziz Fried Chicken’ that would have been a very risky proposition. Having the backing of a big-name brand makes a big difference for a start-up.”

From that humble beginning, Hashim built an 80-unit franchise empire composed of 14 brands — including KFC, Domino’s Pizza, Taco Bell, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Pizza Hut and Popeye’s, as well as PetValu in Canada. Two years ago he decided to pivot, reduce his holdings and launch NRD Partners to invest in franchise companies.

Forty other multi-unit franchise owners are limited partners in the fund that invests in emerging franchise brands and public companies. As Hashim explained, “The investors don’t just provide capital. Many want to be developers and buy franchise stores, build and expand their operations.”

To date, the fund has purchased Frisch’s Restaurants for $175 million, a family restaurant chain famous for its signature Big Boy burgers. It has also invested an undisclosed sum for a 70 percent stake in Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, a fast-casual Mexican chain based in Fort Worth, Texas.

As he pointed out, there are more than 300 different lines of business in franchising — from auto-service shops to hotels to restaurants — so it gives an entrepreneur a wide variety of fields to choose from.

The most important advice he gives entrepreneurs: “First, know where your passion lies, make sure you have a dream team of advisors you trust, and have a detailed plan to manage risks.”

To help others achieve their dreams, Hashim started a program at his own company, called Own It!, which lets hourly workers ascend the ladder of success and buy a franchise. “Once they become a manager and express interest in ownership, I will sell one of my units to them and often help finance it, he said. “It’s a way I can give back.” Ten employees have already gone through the program.

And he’s also endowed a chair in franchise entrepreneurship at Georgia State University.
Riaz Haq said…
While IHOP will be new to Pakistan, it will be joining QSRs such as Johnny Rockets, Fat Burger, Burger King, Hardee's, Domino's Pizza (which just launched drone delivery in the region last year), Subway, Pizza Hut and McDonald's, all of which have rapidly expanded.

Dive Brief:
As part of its Asia-Pacific market expansion, Dine Brands partnered with Pakistan-based Gerry's Group to open 19 IHOPs over nine years in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, according to a press release. Gerry’s Group principals will franchise the first nine — the other 10 to be sub-franchised.
The first IHOP will open in Karachi in late 2019.
The brand has previously expanded into Puerto Rico, India, Thailand, Guam and 11 other countries. It has plans to expand in Latin America, with sites in Peru and Ecuador to open this year, and in Canada with an expansion into New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. It is exploring opportunities in the U.K. as well.

Dive Insight:
Pakistan’s fast-food grounds are fertile for the IHOP brand, as the country has been experiencing a QSR boom in recent years — the second-largest industry in the country and the eighth largest fast food and food-reated business market in the world. With 180 million consumers, the industry makes up 16% of all employment in manufacturing. It is also becoming the world's fastest growing retail market, according to Bloomberg.

While IHOP will be new to Pakistan, it will be joining QSRs such as Johnny Rockets, Fat Burger, Burger King, Hardee's, Domino's Pizza (which just launched drone delivery in the region last year), Subway, Pizza Hut and McDonald's, all of which have rapidly expanded.

For Pakistan, it is the country's youth who crave American variety. The Islamic Republics' fast food demand is also due to multiculturalism, ever-changing lifestyles and the very implementation of the QSRs themselves. While researchers say the fast food boom is an unhealthy trend, these chains represent a key source of income for Pakistan’s major cities — Karachi being among them.

As part of Dine Brands' turnaround strategy, the company opened 71 IHOPs in 2018 with 17 coming from international markets, according to a 2018 year-end earnings release. The company said it expects to open 35 to 55 new restaurants around the world, which will be helped by the Pakistan openings. Growth in global markets is part of the company's long-term strategy, CEO Stephen P. Joyce said in 2018.

It might be hard to foresee IHOP's U.S. fate, especially during a time when casual brands are struggling, but Dine Brands is certainly showing confidence in its international markets. And Pakistan's demand seemingly bolsters the company's position.
Riaz Haq said…
Buying Into Pakistan's Fast-Food Boom Without a Taste Test

Read more at:
Copyright © BloombergQuint

Naim Anwar has spent most of his career in the insurance business in Pakistan, so when it came to buying local franchise rights for Texas-based fried chicken chain Golden Chick, he said it was a no-brainer. “I didn’t try the food” before signing the agreement, Anwar said in an interview over a lunch of Chinese hot and sour soup and kindo fish in Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub. “It turned out

Riaz Haq said…
Published in Mar-Apr 2018
Thought for food
Taimur Tajik
Food as a business is booming in Pakistan because of the inventiveness and ingenuity of the people involved in it.

Local eateries have realised that they cannot rely on taste alone to attract and retain customers. Don’t get me wrong. Taste is paramount, so if your Brazilian-imported steak doesn’t taste like it’s been flown halfway around the world, you may as well name it Pedro and send it back home. But, in addition to the food itself, Pakistani foodies also crave a superior dining experience, which can include everything from the ambience to value-added services. In my opinion, this is where restaurants have become particularly creative. Such ingenuity has given rise to a string of gimmicks, such as dancing waiters, customised meals and menus, and eateries designed to accommodate parents with overly-active kids. The surge of chai walas, for example, has shown how repackaging the classic dhaaba-style concept, with a contemporary menu can persuade even the most posh of diners to trade in their five-star standards for a bit of down-and-dirty road-style cuisine.

Some eateries have even relied on humour and popular culture to grab attention. Some of my favourites include Sattar Buksh (a comical local play on ‘Starbucks’), Central Perk (a TV-show themed café in Peshawar based on the Friends series) and Facebhook (yes, you read that correctly), a local fast food outlet in Karachi that serve their meals on trays designed to look like Facebook posts. I also remember Gun Smoke in its heyday, when it was known for its apparently badly-mannered waiters who would politely salam me at the door and then throw the bill in my face at the end of a meal (in hindsight, a little cultural consideration could have gone a long way for them). Some recent notable mentions also include Cloud Naan, Chaiflix (based on Netflix) and Chaye Thaana – a Lahori jail-themed restaurant, complete with prison cells, barbed wire and waiters dressed as inmates. Regardless of what you may think about these outlets, their tactics or their food, you have to admit that the amount of creativity brewing in the kitchens and back offices of the local food industry is commendable – that too, in the absence of professional agency support. It is this sort of ingenious creativity that keeps the food industry in a constant state of hype, getting customers to foam at the mouth for whatever new food-related ventures may come their way.

In case you are thinking that the food industry’s creativity has reached its peak, think again. According to experts, Pakistan’s food industry is still very much in its infancy and as it continues to expand and evolve, eateries are only going to think of more ways to tantalise our taste buds and make us line up in droves to sink our teeth into the next big thing. From audiences’ points of view, there is no doubt that Pakistanis will welcome these new trends with open arms (and mouths), ready to try out any new taste or trend, no matter how niche, foreign or bizarre. With digital marketing and online food communities swiftly on the rise, the food scenario is only going to become more accessible and inviting, welcoming new types of foodies, cuisines and dining experiences to the fold. That means more eateries, more food choices, and more ingenious and inspiring marketing tactics to whet our insatiable appetites. Now if you will excuse me, I am late for my post-lunch, pre-dinner binge-fest.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan replaces its Belt and Road chief with Beijing favorite
Removal of retired army general from top position stirs debate among businesses

KARACHI -- Pakistan has replaced the head of its Belt and Road projects with an energy expert who is a favorite of Beijing in a bid to push the stalled projects forward, providing observers with another anecdote of China appearing to manage the infrastructure plan from behind the scenes.

Pakistan's government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Aug. 3 appointed Khalid Mansoor to the country's top position responsible for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) -- the $50 billion local component of Beijing's Belt and Road Infrastructure plan -- replacing Asim Saleem Bajwa, a retired army general.

Bajwa had been chairman of the CPEC authority since November 2019. As he takes over, Mansoor's title will now be 'Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs.'

Mansoor, with a career spanning 32 years, has worked at top management positions in many energy-related companies including Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company and Hub Power Company Limited, the latter of which has been involved in CPEC projects.

"[Khalid Mansoor's] vast corporate experience, with extensive work with Chinese companies and his direct involvement in leading some of the biggest CPEC projects, makes him an ideal person to lead the next phase of CPEC," Asad Umar, Pakistan's planning minister, said in a tweet.

An official working with the government told Nikkei Asia that Bajwa had developed a good working relationship with China. Still, Beijing wanted someone in the job who was more familiar with Chinese companies and working culture. "Khalid Mansoor, who has worked with many Chinese companies including directly leading CPEC projects, fits the bill as China's favorite man for the job," the official said.

Experts have linked the change of Pakistan's CPEC chief with Beijing's displeasure at the slow progress of CPEC projects in the country. Since Bajwa assumed office as CPEC authority chairman, there had been no meetings of the Joint Coordination Committee, the apex body jointly chaired by Pakistan and China to make decisions about CPEC projects. With the new CPEC head in office, the 10th JCC is expected to be convened soon.

For several experts, this move is another example of China getting the upper hand in the CPEC and dictating terms to Pakistan. This follows an incident last month, when nine Chinese engineers were killed in a bomb attack on a convoy transporting Chinese personnel to the Dasu Hydropower project in Pakistan's Kohistan district.

"CPEC has undoubtedly gone through a difficult period in the last few years but with the deaths of Chinese workers in the Dasu attack, and anxieties around the situation in Afghanistan, the whole [CPEC] venture has come under even closer scrutiny from Beijing," said Andrew Small, a senior trans-Atlantic fellow with the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund. The security situation in Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan and China, is deteriorating in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal. He further added that the change of Pakistan's top CPEC man is possibly meant to restore the confidence of the Chinese side on CPEC.

In late July, it was revealed in a meeting that five CPEC energy projects, totaling 3,600 megawatts of generation capacity, are facing delays due to technical reasons. Energy projects are the single largest component of CPEC. The appointment of Mansoor, a man with decades of experience in this sector, is therefore seen as an attempt to accerelate these projects.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan ordered an immediate investigation Monday into what the government said was an "illegal" and "unwarranted leakage" of confidential tax documents of the family of the country's powerful military chief.

The move came a day after an online investigative news portal FactFocus published a story about the accumulation of wealth and property worth nearly $56 million by family members of General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his extended six-year term in office ending later this month

Pakistani Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar's office said in a statement he had taken "serious notice" of the leak, calling it a violation of the tax law and breach of official confidential data.

Dar directed the chief investigator officer, an adviser to the prime minister on revenue, to "affix responsibility and submit a report within 24-hours," the statement concluded.

FactFocus alleged in its report Sunday that Bajwa's immediate and extended family members had exponentially expanded their domestic as well as foreign property and businesses since he took command of the Pakistan military in 2016.

The report went on to claim, citing leaked tax documents, that Bajwa's wife transferred funds overseas, making investments in oil business and the real estate, even though she was not an income tax filer until her husband's appointment to the office of the chief of army staff.

A spokesman at the military's media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations, referred VOA to the finance ministry statement when asked for a response to the allegations.

The author of the report is a Pakistani journalist, Ahmad Noorani, who lives in the United States. Pakistani authorities allegedly blocked access to the online portal shortly after the report was published. Noorani also published the alleged wealth statements of Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021.

The FactFocus website calls itself a data-based investigative journalist platform. It has previously also published stories alleging corrupt practices of Pakistani officials and politicians while in power.

Bajwa is due to retire on November 29 and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's coalition government said Monday it was in the process of appointing the new military chief, possibly by the end of this week.

Criticizing the military or its leadership is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan. The army has staged four coups and ruled the nuclear-armed South Asian nation for about 33 years since it gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Former prime ministers and political parties lately and publicly have been regularly alleging the military institution continues to influence security and foreign policy matters and orchestrates the removal of elected governments if they don't fall in line.

Last month, the Pakistani spy chief, Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, in a rare, televised news conference, stopped short of admitting the military had until last year been meddling in national political affairs.

"The army had an intense internal discussion, and [last year] we reached the conclusion the country's interest lies in us restricting ourselves to our constitutional role and remaining out of politics," said Anjum, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI.

Critics remain skeptical about those claims and stress the need for the military to end its involvement in political affairs if democracy is to take solid root in Pakistan. Politicians are also accused of secretly forming alliances with the military to destabilize and eventually topple governments of their rivals.

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