My father spent most of his working life abroad and when my mother and I were being awkward, he used to roll his eyes and say, “In a sensible country, I’d be able to trade you two in for a nice herd of camels or cattle – they don’t answer back”. And it seems that beastly herds have other uses too. A few days ago, livestock trader Syed Fazli Qayum filed an application with a court in Islamabad asking them to charge Pakistani former prime minister Nawaz Sharif with laundering billions of rupees through livestock gifts sent to the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Also named as respondents were Sharif’s former secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad, Deputy Chief of Protocol Naeem Iqbal Cheema, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (Livestock Wing), the Federal Board of Revenue and the Director of the Animal Quarantine Department. Mr Qayam’s application claims that proceeds of a fake bank account scam were used to buy livestock in Pakistan; the livestock were then exported to the Gulf states (in contravention of the Export Policy Orders of 2013 and 2016, which forbid the export of live animals because of a shortage of animals in the local market) and sold there, with the proceeds being paid into offshore accounts. The application estimates the loss to the Pakistani exchequer at about 6.1 billion rupees, or about £35.7 million.
Mr Qayam cites specific trades: he says that in September 2017 Mr Sharif sent 2,500 cattle (worth about £1.9 million) from Pakistan to a member of the royal family in Saudi Arabia, while 1,100 camels (worth £2.6 million) were sent to the UAE and Kuwait on different dates. More than 5,000 goats and sheep (valued at around £860,000) were sent to the UAE and Kuwait, while at least 700 cows and bulls and 50 buffaloes (worth £641,000) were sent to the royal family in the UAE. In his application to the court – asking them to declare the gifts illegal – Mr Qayam states: “Despite being a banned item, the livestock was exported by the previous government as a gift parcel for money laundering [and] huge amounts of ill-gotten wealth is laundered under these gift schemes every year.” And he asks the court to ensure that “all those found involved are proceeded against and the money laundered is recovered from them”.
And in case you’re now wondering the same thing that I am (i.e. how much were my mum and I worth back then), this means that a camel costs £2,364, a cow £760, and a goat or sheep £172.