Islamabad, March 24 (IANS) The lifestyle of Pakistani parliamentarians is like that of royalty and in stark contrast to that of "the vast majority of the people have to deal with the much harsher realities of poverty, inflation and a struggle to put food on the table", said a leading daily.
An editorial in the Dawn Saturday said: "Every year we view the statements of our parliamentarians' assets with a mixture of amusement, disbelief and frustration, perhaps because those who represent the people of Pakistan live luxurious lives worlds away from the misery that confronts the public."
It said that considering the immense wealth of many of the elected representatives, "it is not out of place to compare their lifestyles with those of royalty".
"While many parliamentarians are living the good life, the vast majority of the people of this country have to deal with the much harsher realities of poverty, inflation and a struggle to put food on the table," it said.
The daily cited the example of the Balochistan minister for home and tribal affairs who owns over 24,000 acres of land.
"While some very wealthy lawmakers represent the country's most underdeveloped province, parliamentarians from the other provinces are also doing quite well.
"A number of lawmakers in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly own assets worth tens of millions of rupees while Sindh's food minister owns assets worth over Rs.1.5 billion. Legislators in these three assemblies own considerable stashes of gold, silver and precious stones, while several own real estate in the US, Britain, Canada and Dubai."
Stating that there is nothing wrong with making or having money, the editorial said: "...the electorate needs to know if the income their representatives possess is legitimate and if tax has been paid on it".
"The declaration of assets is a positive thing, yet we need to move a step ahead and analyse if these assets are lawful and taxed," it added.
"Elected representatives must set an example by assuring the people that their sources of income are legitimate and that they pay their fair share of taxes. Such steps are essential for transparency, good governance and a healthy democracy," said the editorial.
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