ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s spokesperson Shahbaz Gill, who is among the leading proponents of foreign conspiracies allegedly being hatched to oust Imran Khan, is himself on the payroll of an American public university and has not declared his salary and employment in the assets submitted to the Cabinet Division.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where Special Assistant to Prime Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Shabbir (Gill) is employed as Clinical Assistant Professor has confirmed to The News in a written reply that he is still a university employee and his annual salary is $124,770.92. Mr Gill, according to the university’s official reply, is teaching Management and Organizational Behavior, Principles of Marketing, and Principles of Retailing.
As per the Prime Minister’s directives, all the Special Assistants to Prime Minister (SAPM) and Advisers are bound to declare their assets and liabilities with the Cabinet Division in a prescribed declaration form. However, Gill has not declared the salary or employment with the American state university to the Cabinet Division. Despite receiving the salary, he did not report it to the Cabinet division.
Apart from his foreign employment, Gill is also a permanent resident of the United States (US green card holder). He has declared his American permanent residency with the Cabinet Division but there is no mention of his salary and employment with the American public university. Nowhere in the assets and liabilities form released by the Cabinet Division does it reflect that Gill has declared his foreign salary or employment. He, however, has declared some properties in Pakistan and a house in the United States as well as some amount (Rs11,900,000 and $40,000) in the category of receivable. The assets and liabilities form released by the Cabinet Division in July 2020 show that Shahbaz Gill owns a plot No406, Block F, Gulberg Residentia, Islamabad, valued at Rs3,956,000. He also owns another property a farm house No302-D Block, Gulberg Greens, Islamabad. Gill and his family, as per the statement of assets and declaration, have Rs3.76 million cash in hand.
He has more than Rs2.6 million in local banks, while he has a bank balance of more than Rs31 million in JP Morgan Chase in the US, while a joint family account in the Busey Bank has Rs1.6 million, the documents showed. He owns a single property in the US, which is on mortgage, worth Rs13 million.
The SAPM has two cars (a BMW and a Camry) worth more than Rs6.5 million, the documents revealed. Gill, along with his family, owns gold worth Rs5.5 million. The Cabinet Division website contains the details of the assets of all the SAPMs. Some of them have submitted the assets details annually, which is a public document. However, Gill has declared his assets as an SAPM only for the tax year 2019. The Cabinet Division has no other details of Gill for the tax year 2020 and 2021.
It is important to note here that after coming into power, Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly had directed the FIA to register a case against Khawaja Asif under Article 6 for receiving salary from a foreign company while he was a member of the federal cabinet.
Shahbaz Gill who is the member of Imran Khan’s cabinet and has proudly claimed in the media to be the eyes and ears of the Prime Minister has not only been receiving the salary from an American public university but his assets and liabilities form submitted with the Cabinet Division has no mention of his foreign employment and salary. Mr. Gill himself claims to have unprecedented access to the Prime Minister.
Gill is one of the closest members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s team. Not only he has access to PM house and office but also to the official documents and communication. This raises serious questions that why he didn’t declare his employment in an American government funded university to cabinet division.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in its written response further said, “The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is committed to academic freedom. As with all of our faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Prof. Shabbir has the individual right of academic freedom to speak and express himself. His personal speech and statements do not represent the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”
Shahbaz Gill was sent a written questionnaire to know whether he declared his employment and salary as an SAPM with the Cabinet Division or not but he did not respond to this scribe despite repeated attempts. Later he posted his response on Twitter.
“Geo TV: Gill Sahib, you bought a plot in Lahore, where did the money come from? Answer: The plot was bought in Lahore. The money was paid in cross check from my own account in Faysal Bank Blue Area. Everything is declared in FBR. Second question: Do you give lectures? Answer: Yes, of course I give lectures,” tweeted Shahbaz Gill.
Mr. Gill further said in his second tweet, “I am a professor. I don’t do corruption, I don’t take contracts, I don’t take any salary from the government and I give lectures for my hobby and I have got a formal permission for this. One last thing for Geo TV. I am not a corrupt person, so I won’t be blackmailed and leave Khan Sahib.”
Instead of replying to this correspondent, Gill posted his response on Twitter but did not mention in his tweets about receiving a hefty salary from the American state university and not declaring it with the Cabinet Division as an SAPM.