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Aug 28 - Sep 03, 2000

Zamarrud Hasan Jafri, is one of the senior most tax lawyers carrying an experience of nearly 40 years to his credit? He is known for his outstanding services for the cause of profession. Being a prominent tax lawyer he is actively engaged in taxation consultancy and practice in all fields of taxation laws.

Presently, he is the co-president of All Pakistan Tax Bar Association. Besides being elected as the President of All Pakistan Tax Bar Association Mid-term 1999-Mid 2000, he was also elected as the senior vice president of All Pakistan Tax Bar Association for the years 1993-1995. He has the distinction to be elected thrice as president of Income Tax Bar Association (Karachi) in the year 1982, 1990 and 1995.

He is also a senior member of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi and also active member of different social and Cultural organizations and Educational Professional bodies like: Rotary International, English Speaking Union of Pakistan, International Fiscal Association, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Fellow of Institute of Taxation and Management, Fellow of Corporate and Taxation Law Society, Vice president Asia Oceana Tax Consultants Association of Japan.

During his distinguish career, Z. H. Jafri undertook various professional assignments in Pakistan as well as abroad including India, Far East and Europe.

PAGE: Being a tax professional how do you see the efforts of the present government (including tax survey, tax amnesty scheme) for tabbing the potential taxpayers to bring them into the tax net?

JAFRI: The answer of this question is properly replied in a folk tale. The drinking water is usually obtained from a well in rural areas. Whenever a dog happened to fall in a well, the villagers would drain at least 21 buckets of water out of the well in order to clean and purify the water of the well.

Unfortunately a dog drowned in the well of a village. When the dead body started stinking in the well, the villagers gathered around the well and thrown out 21 bucket of water from the well. The well was however continued to stink. They again took out 21 bucket of water but the smell continued to spread out of the well. Despite repeating of the method of cleaning the well, they failed to overcome the stink. Finally they called an old wise man and requested to help them in cleaning out the well. The old man asked did you drain out 21 bucket of water from the well? The villagers responded yes. Did you pull out the body of the dead dog from the well? Suddenly they realized that the dead dog was still in the well. It is the case with the present campaign for recovery of the hidden wealth. Recovery of merely Rs10-20 billion plus assets does not reflect the real size of hidden wealth. 'The dog is still in the well'.

What measures you would suggest to broaden the tax base and for creation of a real tax culture in Pakistan.

JAFRI: Enough is enough. Pakistan is now passing through a situation of 'do or die'. If we have to survive as a nation each of us have to play his due role. The situation is formidable. We have to make people realize about the seriousness of the situation. How long a nation could survive on borrowed money for debt servicing. How far a nation can take dictation from moneylenders. The single point agenda should be to get rid of the international lenders. This seems to be a difficult task but of course is well within reach provided people have a strong will to accomplish it. Those who have earned from Pakistan would have to serve it also. People do not realize the value of freedom and sovereignty. Go to India where Muslim families usually do not speak louder in their own homes due to fear of Hindu neighbours. We should compare that situation with our living style in Pakistan where people living independently. We have to protect and safeguard our homeland what the cost may be. He said the situation demands that people in Pakistan have to shun all political, sectarian and ethnic differences to survive as a nation. It is unfortunate that due to rampant corruption and empty slogans, people have lost their confidence in political forces. However these political forces despite all contradictions have a role to play for the cause of Pakistan.

PAGE: What are your comments about present government's efforts for bringing economic reforms in Pakistan.

JAFRI: This is for the first time that any government has taken serious steps for documentation of the economy. No government in the past was ever succeeded in the recovery out of the informal economy. The tempo of recovery was however broken due to gap in the amnesty scheme. In order to make it productive, it should be publicized overwhelmingly at all public places be it a railway station, airport, hospital or mosque. It has to be practically proved that the collected tax is used for the welfare of the people and development purposes. People must be given the opportunity to ask the government that where the taxes are being utilized.