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Wednesday May 29, 2024

Ex-govt officials, bankers own properties in Dubai: report

Among the thousands of Pakistanis who own these properties are around a dozen retired army generals

By Fakhar Durrani
May 15, 2024
Representative image of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest manmade structure in the world, in central Dubai.—AFP/File
Representative image of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest manmade structure in the world, in central Dubai.—AFP/File 

ISLAMABAD: More than a dozen retired military officials and their families, as well as bankers and bureaucrats, own properties in upscale Dubai areas, according to data revealed by the OCCRP’s Dubai Unlocked project.

Among the thousands of Pakistanis who own these properties are around a dozen retired army generals, two retired air vice-marshals of the Pakistan Airforce, a serving inspector general of police (IGP), a retired president of the National Bank of Pakistan, a former chairman of the Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL), and a serving chairman of the Pakistan Council for Science and Technology.

The most prominent among retired military generals is the name of former (and late) military dictator Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf. The former military dictator and his wife’s name appear in the leaked data as the owners of three properties in the areas of Dubai Marina Burj Khalifa and Al Thanyah Fifth.

Musharraf’s former military secretary Lt Gen (R) Shafaat Ullah Shah is also included in the leaked data, which covers the period 2020-2022. His name had also appeared in the Pandora Papers. Lt Gen Shafaat’s son appears to be a co-owner of the same property, per the leaked data. Lt Gen Shafaat in his response to the OCCRP confirmed owning the property and said all his foreign properties are declared with the tax authorities in Pakistan.

Former DG-C during Gen (R) Musharraf’s era, Maj Gen (R) Ehtasham Zameer, his son and other children are also on the list as owners of properties in the Al Warsan First, Marina Arcade Marsa areas. His son has confirmed to the OCCRP their ownership of the properties and said that all of them are declared with the tax authorities.

Also on the list is the son of Lt-Gen Afzal Muzaffar of the NLC scandal fame.

IGP Azad Jammu and Kashmir Dr Sohail Habib Tajik is also on the list for owning property in Al Dafrah First Al Thanyah Third. Dr Tajik has confirmed owning the property and said that he bought it in 2002 while he was “working in the UN. My salary was $10,000. I transferred the money from UN Bank to Dubai as a legal transaction and declared it in my assets and proudly say that everywhere.”

Former president of the NBP Arif Usmani also features on the list as the owner of a penthouse.

Another Lt-Gen (R) Muhammad Akram owns a property in Elite Residences 4. In addition, Lt-Gen Alam Jan Mehsud and his spouse own a five-bedroom apartment in the Al Hamri Palm Jumeirah area. The leaked data shows that Maj Gen (R) Ghazanfar Ali Khan also owns a property in S15 Building Al Warsan First.

Major Gen (R) Raja Muhammad Arif Nazir also appears in the leaked data for owning a property in Golf Promenade 2-A, Al Hebiah third area. Maj Gen (R) Arif confirmed to The News that he owned the said property, adding that it was gifted to him by his sons who are living in the US and Denmark. About the declaration of the property, he said he hasn’t declared it yet as the property was off-plan and he received the possession in 2022 but that he would declare it now.

Former DG Military Lands and Cantonment Maj Gen Najam ul Hassan Shah too is on the list for owning property in Al Saqran Tower Al Thanyah Fifth.

In his response to The News, Gen (R) Najam said: “I bought an off-plan property in 2007. We were told the building would be completed in 2014 and the apartment would be handed over to us. But it is yet to be completed and we are currently in litigation with the management of the tower as they failed to deliver the apartment despite the passage of almost 17 years.”

Meanwhile, Air Vice Marshal (R) Saleem Tariq also appears to own property as does Air Vice Marshal (R) Khalid Masood Rajput as well as former chairman of OGDCL Zahid Muzaffar and chairman PCST Syed Anwar-ul Hassan Gillani who are also on the list as property owners.

Also included in the list are Major Gen (R) Muhammad Farooq and Major Gen (R) Anis Bajwa’s spouse.

The Dubai Unlocked data was obtained by the Centre for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS), a non-profit organisation based in Washington, DC. It was then shared with Norwegian financial outlet E24 and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which coordinated a six-month investigative project with reporters from 74 media outlets in 58 countries, uncovering scores of convicted criminals, fugitives, and political figures who have recently owned at least one piece of real estate in Dubai.