Action against colleagues to be a test of PM Imran’s nerves
October 5, 2021 01:08 AM
The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ’s disclosure that 700 Pakistanis, including politicians and former military men, have money in offshore companies is simply shocking.
Now the matter will remain the subject of discussions at countless TV channels for many days to come.
Understandably, those named in the story will claim innocence on the ground that offshore companies are legal entities and the money lying in them is also lawful.
The opponents will raise questions about their legality.
Thus, there will be no end to the controversy as the parties will stick to their respective points of view.
What is more flabbergasting is the fact that the Panama leaks have not been able to discourage the trend. That scandal had exposed more than 400 Pakistanis.
It should also be a matter of serious concern that Pakistan, which is the only nuclear power among the 57 Islamic countries, doesn’t have any agency of its own that could trace or prevent such transactions.
Superfluous to point out that unless such an agency is established, the corrupt practice will continue and those involved in it will keep defending themselves on one pretext or the other.
Even more painful is the fact that those at the helm or on opposition benches will not call for the establishment of such an agency because it will go against their interests.
The agencies already in the field for decades lack credibility.
The PML-N and PPP leaders’ consistent allegation that the NAB is a tool in the hands of the government substantiates the point.
Everyone knows that it was then PML-N prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and then opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah (PPP) who had picked Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal as NAB chairman for four years.
Leaders of both these parties are facing NAB cases and it’s hard to foretell how long they will take to come to a conclusion.
Despite the PML-N’s serious reservations about the NAB, its opinion of the foreign agencies is quite different.
The entire leadership of the party was all praise for the National Crime Agency of UK when it recently closed investigations against Suleman Shehbaz and others in dubious money transactions.
It is being projected as the victory of the Sharif family.
Lately, there are reports that the NAB is likely to be ‘emasculated’ in the near future. It will be stripped of a number of powers it has been enjoying so far.
However, it will be great disservice if the ruling PTI-government agrees to reduce the NAB to a powerless entity just to improve its ties with the opposition.
People remember that accountability was the biggest promise of the PTI before the 2018 elections. But, so far, it remains its major failure.
In case the accountability is compromised, it can be predicted that no action will be taken against those named in the Pandora Papers. They include: Minister for Finance & Revenue Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin, Minister for Water Resources Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, Federal Minister Faisal Vawda, President of the National Bank of Pakistan Arif Usmani, PM’s ambassador at large for Foreign Investment Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, and Managing Director of the National Investment Trust Adnan Afridi.
The family of Minister for Industries Khusro Bakhtyar and the son of Waqar Masood, the PM’s Special Assistant who recently resigned, have also been named in the Pandora Papers.
Then, Senior Minister of Punjab Abdul Aleem Khan and business tycoon Tariq Shafi are also required to answer questions.
From the opposition, Ishaq Dar’s son and Sharjeel Memon have been mentioned in the Pandora Papers.
Then, retired generals and their children have also figured in the Pandora Papers.
The former military secretary of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Lt. Gen. (retd) Shafatullah Shah allegedly owns an expensive apartment in London through an offshore company which is in the names of his wife and son.
Former DG (Counter Terrorism) of the ISI, Maj. Gen. (retd) Nusrat Naeem got a company registered soon after his retirement in 2009.
The son of Lt. Gen. (retd) Afzal Muzaffar held an offshore company which was used for a business in the UAE. Afzal Muzaffar was implicated in a case related to making an illegal investment of Rs4.3 billion in the stock market while being the DG NLC, which caused a loss of Rs1.8 billion.
The wife of former defence production secretary, Lt. Gen. (retd) Tanvir Tahir is a shareholder of an offshore company. The sister of Lt. Gen. (retd) Ali Quli Khan bought properties in the UK through an offshore company. She made this purchase through the fortune she inherited from her deceased father, Lt. Gen. (retd) Habibullah Khattak.
Former chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak’s two sons also own an offshore company.
Action against all those named in the Pandora Papers will be a test of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s nerves.
And he should bear in mind that his party has to face fresh elections after some time.
People already disappointed by the PTI government’s performance on various fronts will not trust it any more.