Editors Note: Rich, yes, but how rich?

The tricky task of calculating net worths in the country

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“If you can count your money, you don’t have a billion dollars.” J.Paul Getty

Forbes Magazine has an obsession with the world’s billionaires. The publication’s relentless pursuit of the “three comma club” is a natural response to market demand. The public wants to know about these near-mythical creatures.

It might surprise the reader that Forbes lists Pakistan as the largest country in the world that does not have a billionaire. Nonsense, you would say. Of course, there are businessmen in the country that would be well over that amount. And what about the corrupt top politicians? Surely they have more than that amount stashed away somewhere?

Well, that list or two whose links your cousin might have WhatsApped you is fake news. And one doesn’t even need to be a seasoned journalist to figure that out. There has actually been no rigorous exercise to that end in the country.

There are many challenges in Pakistan when it comes to figuring out the actual worth of individuals. First of all, of course, is the gargantuan black economy, with not much by way of documentation. Surely the bigger businessmen can’t be slotted together with the off-the-books tractor mechanics, you ask? Yes, but this lack of documentation still forms the background of such exercises. Then, there is the scarcity of publicly listed companies, making data on assets difficult to come by. Add to this mix the whole (legal) business of setting up off-shore companies and giving away a lot to one’s children at a relatively early stage, and we have on our hands, a state of affairs where we cannot easily determine the total net worth of many people in the country.

The gentleman we are profiling in this week’s cover story, who according to sources might be a multi-billionaire, has an air of mystery about him, yes. But is the financial situation of the other, more media-friendly captains of industry and commerce any bit clearer? Beyond a point, it would be conjectures.

As financial journalists, of course, we feel that there should be more and more clarity on this front. Not because we’re curious (correction: not only because we’re curious) but because we are for more clarity and numbers in general. In our framework of Asian Values, we might think to talk about net worth is crass. It doesn’t have to be if we’re being grown up about it.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hi , Babar Zille huma here …i m surprised to see u nd ur such a brilliant ideas to explores such articles…u were genius In LSE nd remain genius ..

  2. I am really excited to learn about Mr Habib Ulla Khan’s achievements and his future plans.He is a real business tycoon like any business men of the world.May Allah (SWT)give him strength and guidance to complete his ambitious plans. Ameen.

  3. Dear, feeling less fearful after the awareness about Habibullah khan type of required business tycoons to rescue Pakistans Economic condition. Advertised business’s are like the statements issued by political Finance Ministers. Painting rosy pictures, with an Empty Inside. May Allah Bless People like Khan sb, dedicated to contribute for the future of this confused country.

  4. This is so heartening to read, it simple gives me goosebumps and electrify my passion for this country. It would have been even great on Mr. Habibullah’s part if he start investing in small startup’s which are new generation are doing. Our youth have a lot of potential and what they need is a chance or stage to prove their skils.
    thumb’s up sir.

  5. I was moved to see this, that such people are here still to create such Parvaz. Inshallah he will be successful and will remain in the hearts of True Pakistanis. May Allah almighty bless you with good health and safe surrounding and keep you away of conspirators.

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