The Federal Board of Revenue has finally revealed the details of the tax payments of our lawmakers. While it is great that this amount of disclosure has finally been introduced in our society, and bearing in mind that this is a first, it seems that the FBR might actually be able to do its job properly one day in the distant future, if its taxpayers actually accept it as a valid institution. It is also surprising that out of 1172 lawmakers, only 102 have not filed their tax returns. Lets remind ourselves that this is Pakistan, and corruption permeates every nook and cranny of the country, one would expect more people in the position of power to outrightly refuse to pay any sum, small or large.

One thing that should not surprise however, is that the amounts of some of our representatives have been grossly understated, considering the fact that there are so many of them that refuse to pay their utility bills as well. Even if we accept the fact that Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman, for example, is a pauper with no stable income, his payment of the income tax was 13000 for 2013, which would make his income to be around 10000 a month. Really? Does Mr. Rahman really expect the public to believe that? Granted that JUI-F does not run on the personal coffers of one individual, there is still no way that any lawmaker can earn such a pittance. If anyone thinks that our lawmakers are in need of improving their fortunes, just go have a look at the Parliament’s parking lot, which houses some of the most expensive cars in the world.

If the FBR is actually committed to doing their jobs, they need to stop accepting whatever the rich say on face value. One only has to look at the way these ‘poor’ live in order to know that this feigned destitution is merely a means to stock up the vast sums of wealth these people already have. The amount of money spent on elections alone makes these values a mathematical impossibility. The parliament is home to the some of the richest people in Pakistan. Prominent businessmen and wealthy landlords that make up the elite of society are also the ones running the government. These are also the people that form the biggest chunk of the tax net, and their refusal to pay is partially the reason why the state has so little money. If the government really expects its public to pay taxes, then it has to set an example. There is no use expecting the middle class and the lower class to pay taxes when the real money-makers are free to do as they please.