Panama Leaks put on the backburner


Bigger fish to fry


The Panama Leaks that surfaced in early April had disturbed the world as it revealed approximately 11.5 million leaked documents containing the names of people, having off-shore companies in various tax havens around the world.

Several Pakistani politicians, including the children of our beloved Prime Minister, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif – Hassan, Hussain and Maryam Nawaz – were named as holders of offshore companies in the tax havens of the British Virgin Islands.

In true democratic societies, where people have the ‘right to know’, politicians named in Panama Papers were demanded to resign or present the details of their off-shore companies. The Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, resigned on public demand, whereas former British Prime Minister, David Cameron justified his father’s offshore wealth.

In case of Pakistan, the Panama Papers made no difference courtesy the holy month of Ramzan and Prime Minister Sharif’s cardiac surgery. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan, however, remained vocal to protest against the prime minister’s family but in the present situation, everyone has almost forgotten the Panama problem and is now looking forward to the next general elections. The terms of reference (ToRs) were never decided and a commission to probe the Panama Papers was never formed.

What is more saddening is that, the people of Pakistan, who claim to love democratic regimes and always fear a martial law, did not even demand of their elected government to inquire into this matter or justify their assets. Neither anyone protested or chanted slogans against the government nor did anyone block the roads. A common man, who is only ever worried to get a two-time meal per day, seems to be completely oblivious to the situation and hence, the government and the opposition will once again succeed to fool them whose ‘right to know’ is being violated ever since the creation of this country. And now asking the people to pay taxes when the leaders themselves evade them is creating passivity among them.

In case a Panama commission is formed, whether judicial or a parliamentary, and it completes its investigation, there is no guarantee that its report would be made public similar to many other commissions formed in the history of the country whose reports have never been presented before the people.

We probably know what this commission would do – it would clear the names of the politicians named in the Panama Papers and as a result, this so-called ‘democracy’ would flourish.

This is not the first time the people of Pakistan will be fooled; our political elite are the masters in this skill. Whether it is election rigging, land grab, corruption in projects like Metro Bus or Orange Line Metro Train, sugar mills or tax evasion, our politicians always find a way out to escape a trouble, if any.

The few families or let’s say ‘feudals’ who ‘own’ everything in this country, are elected as our representatives time and again. We can hardly see a new face who can give hope to this dismal situation. The PTI chief who claimed to bring ‘Tabdeeli’ (change) could not change anything in his Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

For now, we can see no hope as things seem to remain the same. If ‘God forbid’, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif takes over the ‘democratic’ government, what good would it do anyway? However, the people of Pakistan are – unfortunately – already too upset dealing with their social and economic problems – to the extent they would probably welcome him by saying: thank you Raheel Sharif.

Just like how the Panama Leaks issue is resolved without creating any mess, other problems ‘threatening democracy’ or ‘sovereignty of Pakistan’ would also be solved in similar fashion. This is how politics works in Pakistan and this is why the country has become too weak internally to fight for the right thing externally.

Now we’ll have to wait and see what Imran Khan has in store for us in his protest sit-ins ready to be staged from August 7. Will they turn out to be yet another Dharna-turned-musical concert or will they materialise into something tangible? Only time will tell.


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