Every time there’s another news story about some horrible atrocity taking place in Pakistan, there are also reminders like this that they’re really just like us. Our politicians don’t file income taxes and neither do theirs. But don’t worry, your tax money pays for it all through foreign aid.
Almost 70 percent of Pakistani lawmakers did not file income taxes last year, an investigative journalism group said on Wednesday, highlighting deep flaws in a taxation system that has drawn repeated criticism from Western aid donors.
The Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan released a report based on leaked tax returns, marking the first time that the records of 446 lawmakers and ministers have been published and focusing scrutiny on individuals ahead of polls next year.
Pakistan’s inability to raise revenue has constrained government spending, depriving schools and hospitals of funds and exacerbating a power crisis, causing widespread hardship in the nuclear-armed country of 180 million people.
Western allies have poured billions of dollars in aid into Pakistan, worried that growing public anger may boost recruitment to Islamist militant groups threatening to destabilise Pakistan and beyond.
But the aid has not been nearly enough to plug the huge gap between members of the elite, who often pay little tax, and the poor who desperately need the public services taxes should fund.
The solution is obvious. Occupy Pakistan.