Less than 9 months after he took over promising a Naya Pakistan, Imran Khan appears more like Purana Pakistan, aka Musharraf’s Pakistan. There is almost no difference between Imran Khan’s cabinet and that of Pervez Musharraf. As many experts have noted, this appears to be a policy of the deep state to control every aspect of Khan’s government and in this way seek to improve Pakistan’s ‘image’ in the global arena.
Pakistan’s top finance officials have also been changed: Imran’s blue-eyed boy Asad Umar has been replaced by known establishment sympathizer Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. As Bloomberg stated perceptively “Ex-Dictator’s Aide Named Pakistan Finance Chief Amid IMF Talks.” “Shaikh takes on the role of finance chief for a second time following an appointment in 2010 and was the minister in charge of privatizations in the early 2000s during the tenure of military dictator Pervez Musharraf.
The government also removed Tariq Bajwa, chief of the State Bank of Pakistan, and Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, the head of the country’s tax authority. Shabbar Zaidi, a former provincial finance minister, was named the next chairman of Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue.
However, in 2018 Pakistan’s biggest audit firm A.F. Ferguson then headed by Zaidi was named in a mega sales tax scam for Maersk shipping line. According to a news report, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CJI) “appealed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take necessary legal action and start criminal proceedings against Maersk shipping line and audit firms including A.F. Ferguson and Co. The investigation agencies needed to probe if the company deliberately connived with M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd in its sales tax fraud or unintentionally made a mistake by not conducting proper audit of the later which was evading tens of billions of rupees sales tax of services provided to local clients. According to information available online, A.F. Ferguson consists of 44 partners and 1700 staff members. The firm is currently headed by Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi and is the oldest firm in Pakistan.”
Zaid’s name was also added to the Exit Control List (ECL) but Imran Khan had his name removed.