ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army on Sunday rejected media reports that the outgoing chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa's family members and relatives became billionaires during his six-year tenure, terming them as "misleading" and based on "blatant lies and malice."
Gen Bajwa, 61, is scheduled to retire on November 29 after getting a three-year extension.
According to the report published by the FactFocus website, the alleged tax records of Gen Bajwa's family, the current market value of the known assets and the business of the army chief, both within and outside Pakistan, amounted to Rs 12.7 billion.
Pakistan Army finally broke its silence on Sunday, days after the Shehbaz Sharif-led government launched a probe and suspended two officers from service for their involvement in leaking the tax records of Gen Bajwa and his family members.
Pakistan Army's media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations, said misleading data regarding the assets of Army chief Gen Bajwa and his family were shared on social media, and the same assumption-based data was presented in an exaggerated manner on different platforms.
"It is totally untrue and based on blatant lies and malice," the statement read, adding that the assets of General Bajwa, his wife and the rest of his family had been declared to the Federal Board of Revenue.
A "false impression" was being given that these assets were acquired by the father-in-law of General Bajwa's son during his six-year tenure, it said. The Army chief and his family regularly file their tax returns, the statement said.
"Like every citizen, the Army chief and his family are answerable to the tax authorities for their assets," the statement added.
The FactFocus website, which describes itself as a "Pakistan-based digital media news organisation working on data-based investigative news stories," shared the alleged wealth statements of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021 on its page.
The report claimed that the assets of Gen Bajwa's wife, Ayesha Amjad, went from zero in 2016 to Rs 2.2 billion (declared and known) in six years. It stated the amount did not include residential plots, commercial plots and houses given by the Army to her husband.
The report also alleged that the total worth of the declared assets of Mahnoor Sabir (Gen Bajwa's daughter-in-law) jumped from zero in the last week of October 2018 to Rs 1,271 million on November 2, 2018, while the assets of Mahnoor's sister Hamna Naseer went from zero in 2016 to "billions" by 2017.
Furthermore, the tax returns of Sabir Hameed, the Army chief's son's father-in-law, were less than a million in 2013 but "in the coming years, he became a billionaire," the website claimed.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar ordered a probe after the tax and wealth details of Gen Bajwa's family members were released online by the website.
Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif on Thursday chose Lt Gen Asim Munir as the new Army chief to succeed incumbent Gen Bajwa, ending the suspense over the key appointment.
EXCLUSIVE | Don't expect Gen. Asim Munir will needle India anytime soon, says ex-High Commissioner