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Qatari prince to re-think investment after his cars seized by Pak govt

By Murtaza Ali Shah
October 06, 2018

LONDON: A leading Middle East regional player and one of the richest people in the world is upset after facing humiliation at the hands of Customs and Taxation department in Pakistan over confiscation of his legally parked cars at a factory owned by the former Senator Saif-ur-Rehman, it has been learnt reliably.

The Customs Intelligence confiscated vehicles of Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jasim Al Thani and his family members from the warehouse of former National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Saif-ur-Rehman in Islamabad and then news were run against the prince on national media.

Prince Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani owns several top hotels in London, New York, Italy including Intercontinental London Churchill Hayat Regency London, where Pakistani government delegations stay, as well as in other parts of the world.

A source close to the prince told this scribe here that action by the government officials to create headlines has been “extremely unfortunate”. The source said that the Qatari prince is re-thinking his investment plans in Pakistan because of the sustained political witch-hunt he has faced in the country. The source said that the prince has been targeted when the officials raided his properties knowing well that he has not broken any law.

Prince Hamad has major share holdings in Siemens Germany, Deutche bank, Credit Suisse and in five major banks of Qatar. Now due to illegal action taken by custom authorities in Pakistan he is thinking to withdraw his investments from Pakistan

The Customs Intelligence officials took away around 2 dozen land cruisers which were parked one the premises of Redco Textile Mills in Rawalpindi. This mill is owned by Saif-ur-Rehman who advises the Qatari royal family and has acted for the family. It has now been established that the Qatari prince followed all the rules and imported his cars to Pakistan for annual hunting season. These cars were exempted from duty because Pakistani government offers this facility under the SRO rules and no rules were flouted or violated.

The source said that Prince Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani is a friend of Pakistan and it was shocking that need was felt to paint him in a bad light. “The fact is Qatari Prince Hamad brought investment of $2.5 billion to Pakistan in Karachi Port Qasim power project, he is a former Prime Minister of Qatar. He is a major regional player. He has investments all over the world. He set up a power plant in Pakistan on request of Nawaz Sharif and that power plant is already in production of energy within three years. He has signed MOU to put up investment of about $ 10 bill in oil refinery, gas pipeline, and another power plant.”

Like many Saudis and Kuwaiatis who have cars parked in Pakistan after clearance under SRO, Prince Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani also has his cars parked in Pakistan as his cars have duty exemptions,” said the source.

When contacted, Saif-ur-Rehman confirmed that his factory was raided by the officials and vehicles confiscated. He said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for these cars issued approval and cars were parked in his property only because space was available. My manager told the officials that he didn’t have keys as Qatar Embassy held keys for these vehicles but they towed away these vehicles and couldn’t wait. These cars are used for only one month in a year for hunting. Sadly, the government officials arrested my manager and took him away without listening to him. It has been a terrifying experience.”

The former senator said that an FIR has been registered against him which is nothing but “political witch-hunt and expression on part of the current desperate government” which doesn’t know what to do and how to move forward. He accused the government of harming interests of Pakistan globally through its reckless action.

In a letter dated 25 of September 2018, the embassy of Qatar in Islamabad said that the vehicles were “imported legally for the hunting purpose in Pakistan by the Qatari dignitary H.H Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim bin Jabr Al Thani , the former Prime Minister of the state of Qatar, under Pakistani Customs Tariff Chapter 9905. These vehicles are parked in ex-Senator Saif-ur-Rehman premises in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad”.

According to the rules, most of the vehicles brought for diplomats to Pakistan are under 9902 and there are hundreds of such vehicles in Pakistan. While no action has ever been taken against anyone, action was taken only against the Qatari Prince and the former Pakistani Senator. Sources at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have said that these vehicles were imported under SRO 9902 and 9905 and the Customs had allowed importing these vehicles with the permission of foreign ministry.