The Leaked Stories: From Panama to Pajamas

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Comparing the past and present

In the early days of Pakistan the government servants would save the papers and would use both sides of a page. So much so that even the employees, in the absence of the common pins, would collect the spikes and spines to pin up the papers and for other office use. There was no concept of offerings and bribe in the early days, hence there was no corruption. While recalling the early days’ of Pakistan’s history which no one can forget and it would be pertinent to mention those, one remembers that when Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the Governor General of a newly born Muslim state named Pakistan, one day the cabinet meeting was summoned and while sensing the protocol need the Governor General’s ADC asked the Quaid, “What is to be served during the cabinet meeting; tea or coffee?” The Quaid replied spontaneously and bluntly, “Aren’t they served meal at their places? Will they be hungry at this hour of the day?” The incident carried a lesson for the leaders who followed Mr. Jinnah.

 

Dishonesty is ‘alleged’ as a striking obstacle for good governance, authority of law and rational use of power to run the affairs of state and maintain public unity / national synchronization. Regrettably, rampant corruption in Pakistan is posing a very serious threat to the state. It has become a significant obstacle towards development and adversely impacting the good governance and rule of law. The most recent case of corruption and dishonesty is leaked by the Panama Papers, the biggest ever unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca.

 

The reason for calling it a biggest ever leak is because it is larger than the US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010 or the secret intelligence documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden in 2013. There are 11.5m documents consisting of information drawn from Mossack Fonseca’s internal database that occupying 2.6 terabytes space on servers. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

 

The problem is not what the papers have disclosed or leaked about a dozen of international leaders among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens. The problem is not even what papers say about the Russian president’s best friend, a cellist called Sergei Roldugin, the part of whose offshore capital ended up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katarina got married lavishly, nor it is about an offshore investment fund run by the father of British prime minister David Cameron or about the prime minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.

 

The biggest problem and matter of embarrassment for us, the Pakistanis, is that among the other international leaders with offshore wealth, the names of Nawaz Sharif and his children are also there. Apart from his name two other important names are of Benazir Bhutto and Rehman Malik of PPP. However in case of Mian Nawaz Sharif his three most “wise men of Gotham”, instead of showing Mr. PM the correct path, made ‘remaining journey’ for him much harder. It looks as if Mian Nawaz Sharif dug his own grave when on the leakage of Panama papers he made a hasty decision to address the nation. The second blunder committed by him was about talking of irrelevant past, to say about the downfall and rise of Itefaq Foundry which was nationalised by Bhutto and later denationalised by the Zia regime. Some people do have short memory but not everyone. Still the eyewitnesses to the case are alive who will confirm the discrimination done to the Batala Engineering Company (BECO) vis-à-vis Itefaq. Those characters are still there who know well that out of these two industrial states, of which company the losses of around forty crore were written off, the work force of 2000 workers was retrenched and returned the company to the owners free of any encumbrances plus with a grant of rupees forty crores.

 

For any sane person, addressing the nation for clarifying a personal issue was the biggest slip-up by the ever blundering Nawaz Sharif. According to PMLN mouthpieces the leaked papers do carry some family names, however; no direct mentioning of Nawaz Sharif is there. Well if one goes by this logic then what was the urgency or hurry for the prime minister to address the nation for clarifying this ‘petty issue’ which was not directly related to him? At the same time similar is the situation in case of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was an indirect beneficiary of his father’s offshore company’s profit. While the Iceland’s premier has stepped down and British and the Argentinean leaders are facing the ruthless investigations, here in Pakistan the ruling elite is taking it lightly and mocking the issue by announcing non serious commissions.

 

The higher you go the greedier you get. Isn’t it matters of great shame that one of the ex prime ministers Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani while leaving the office took away a precious necklace presented to the second lady by the Turk first lady at that time? He was not alone to enjoy this sauna bath. In fact, Asif Zardari’s name is also taken, who enjoyed a complete term as the President and is alleged for scores of embezzlements. The most recent cases where his names is mentioned are of a celebrity and model Ayyan Ali and few of his party persons like Dr. Asim who supposedly worked as his front men. There was a list about Asif Ali Zardari’s local assets which went viral and is circulating on internet and social media.

 

Unfortunately, unbridled and epidemic corruption in Pakistan has infected the entire edifice of national institutions while the rule of law appears to have been totally disregarded. Thus few parasites devouringly consume best of resources while the inopportune poor majority remains repressed and victimized under hard economic conditions. The elite leadership despite having been empowered by the masses through a democratic process has developed vicious aversion, disgusting dislike and malicious vindictiveness / insensitivity against general public they actually represent.

 

The sufferings of deprived and unfortunates in Pakistan can well be anticipated by prevailing un-employment, poor living and health conditions, price hike, social injustice, contempt of merit, promoting chum-ship and deplorable law and order situation in the country. Political leadership who has its own priorities is busy in power grabbing process while the poor suffer under hard environment where healthy food, clean drinking water, respectable shelter, justice, education and health care facilities are totally non-existent. Regrettably the ministers concerned remain busy in settling scores against their political opponents using floor of Parliament and media channels. Most of their time and effort is spend on preparing fierce speeches to level fresh tirades of accusations and countering the barrages of counter allegations.

 

And amidst this when their financial scams and cases of plundering and looting are unearthed then its termed as a conspiracy by the opponents. In his recent address to the nation Nawaz Sharif made an indirect taunt when he assured about knowing the objectives and purpose of those who were behind this paper leak. One can only feel sorry for such stubborn attitude. The whole world is shook by this historic financial data leak where some are sent home while others are getting it around their neck and here our rulers are determined to throw dust in public’s eyes.

 

Rule of law seems non-existent while merit is totally disregarded. Cronyism and nepotism are fast spreading setting unethical precedence and bringing bad name to governance. The public perceptions are getting stronger that poor governance is due to corrupt practices and misuse of public office. All these evils and vices are drifting the nation and the country away from the positive goals and towards darkness. It’s very painful to see that we, as a nation are blamed for all sorts of corruption but at the end of the day when a name is called then its neither mine nor yours, rather it’s our beloved homeland Pakistan that is called as a corrupt country. Poor Pakistan; that has no role no part in this filthy corruption is labeled as, and made to stand at the stage, at 58th position. Why Pakistan? Why not me, you or our heartless rulers?

 

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