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Does Charity Absolve One of Corrupt Deeds?

Does Charity Absolve One of Corrupt Deeds?

Manaal Shuja

Chief Justice (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has accused the chairman of Bahria Town Malik Riaz, of trying to cover up his illegal occupation of land by using the label of ‘charity’. The wording he chose while berating Riaz was quite brutally frank:

‘Charity work cannot be done by bribing people.’

Malik Riaz has been attending court hearings pertaining to the matter of his construction project of Bahria Town Karachi, where he has claimed he will be building houses for the poor.


2013 – Malik Riaz seals deal with American businessman Thomas Kramer for Pakistan’s first island city to be made in Karachi

However, it was found out that people who had been allotted plots of land were being sent notices by Bahria Town housing society to make allotment payments to a new, separate bank account. This was not in keeping with the decision of the court which had already decided to set up a special account to which the outstanding allotment dues would be paid.

Aitzaz Ahsan acting as Riaz’s counsel denied the circulation of any such notices; nonetheless, CJP Nisar ordered an amount of Rs. 20 billion to be paid to the court which would be ‘returned to the nation’. After much pleading on the part of Riaz, this amount was driven down to 5 billion.

Malik Riaz was ordered to present all property documents and told that he was not allowed to sell any assets while the court reaches a decision.

The point Justice Nisar made in his opening statement is a thought-provoking line of argument; what does indeed charity work really amount to if people are simultaneously being taken advantage of?

‘You cannot illegally occupy land and then do charity’ – another statement Justice Nisar directed at Malik Riaz. He also pointed out that Riaz’s plan to build the world’s third-largest mosque also cannot compensate for the illegalities underlying his venture.


Unfortunately, using religious or philanthropic motives as a guise for more sinister aims is no new thing. It has been done before and will continue to happen.

Scam PACs in America collected thousands of dollars through ‘charities’ such as ‘America for the Cure of Breast Cancer’; these charity programs claimed to be helping worthwhile causes, but that was not the case.

While this constitutes as outright duping, there are other subtler ways through which people make use of charity: by fooling themselves and others into believing that charity is some sort of purifier for their nefarious deeds. The unfortunate part is, third parties often buy into this attitude, pointing out that perhaps the wrongness should be excused because the person is, after all, a generous helper of people.

Charity should be without pretense and ulterior motives. It is not a banner of righteousness to be wielded by the elite of society in order to excuse their wrongdoings. Whatever Malik Riaz actually did or didn’t do is irrelevant; what is important is that his use of charity is setting the wrong precedent, and this needs to be corrected.


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