Delaying enquiry won’t help


Revealing or hiding facts?

The Panama Papers cannot just be brushed aside by protestation of discrimination by association. As David Cameron’s case shows, questions are bound to be raised in case of close relatives of any politician found involved in conducting business through offshore companies or hiding incomes through tax havens. Demands for international tax reforms and disclosure of all those benefiting from offshore companies are on the rise. The issue has provided insights into weaknesses in the system and possible relationship between tax havens, corruption and terrorism. What the Panama Papers do is highlight the bigger issue of the deficit in transparency, accountability and trust and its potential impact on the system. Democracies in the West are already being challenged for countenancing unsustainable income differentials which erode the meritocratic credentials of the system. Popular disgust with political establishments across the Atlantic is already benefiting radical leaders like Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. In countries like Pakistan democracy is seen to be degenerating into klepto-cracy, where growing cynicism among the alienated population allows extremist networks like al Qaeda, TTP, and IS to thrive and challenge the state.


It would suffice no more to claim that since existing laws provide cover to financial dealings through tax havens the transactions are beyond reproach. In Britain people might accept David Cameron’s promise to conduct a probe through existing institutions meant for the purpose because these are widely seen to be independent. In Pakistan it won’t help taking recourse to a commission appointed by the government as commissions of the sort are known more for hiding than revealing the facts. The best way is to urgently call the parliamentary opposition for consensus on a body to conduct the probe. Anyone hoping that the issue would subside with the passage of time is mightily mistaken. The issue continues to gather momentum instead. Delays will only add to suspicions and lead to unrest. The sooner the government settles the matter with the opposition the better for everybody.




  1. While it is justified in focussing on the off shore companies owned by the PM's sons, why are the other people named in the Panama files being given reprieve. The opposition has gone with all guns blazing against the person of the PM, whose name does not even appear in the leaks! All political parties must realise that Pakistan cannot afford in-stability at this crucial stage of our history, when the nation is fighting for its very survival on numerous fronts simultaneously.

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