ISLAMABAD - As countdown of Pakistani citizens named in the Pandora Papers about their financial secrets continues, it has already sent shock waves across the country.
Initial count suggests there are more than 700 high profile citizens who had allegedly laundered their ill gotten wealth through offshore companies.
The stunning Pandora Papers unveiled by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) late Sunday night come at a time when powerful political elites like “Sharif family” still struggling to recover from fallouts of 2016 Panama Leaks. However, Pandora Papers are unlike the infamous Panama leaks. Pandora Papers include names of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet members and senior members of his ruling party PTI. In addition, the report also includes names of close relatives of political families, retired senior civil and military officers and business concerns, which make the report different and more sensitive to have far reaching implications for the country.
Fallouts of Panama leaks:
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was one of the 400 plus individuals named in the Panama Leaks. He was disqualified by the country’s apex court. About ninety individuals on the list had later cleared themself by availing the special amnesty scheme offered by the incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan.
On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif and his family heading the main opposition party PML-N are still contesting and believed that they have been subjected to personal vendetta and political victimisation.
Sharifs also accuse Prime Minister Imran Khan of having used the anti-graft body National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and FIA for their witch-hunting since he came into power in 2018, allegation strongly refuted by the Prime Minister and his ruling party PTI.
Rather, Imran Khan and his government insist that Sharifs had committed massive corruption while in the government and had laundered their ill-gotten wealth and invested in precious real estate assets in the United Kingdom.
Thus, considering political fallouts of the Panama Leaks and the anti-corruption campaign of the incumbent dispensation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pandora Papers are set to further charge the atmosphere in the country.
Who wins, who loses?
Ironically, detractors of Prime Minister Imran Khan have been actively searching his name in the list but ended up with sheer disappoinment. They might have been more disappointed when he welcomed the Pandora Papers and vowed to investigate citizens named in the report and take action against them for any wrongdoing. Surely, this was his most laudable decision in responding to a challenging situation. How he would be dealing with subsequent challenges in the coming days and what would be the consequences of his actions are some questions that cannot be addressed at this stage.
Some political analysts are sounding optimistic that Imran Khan’s swift reaction to Pandora Papers was exceptional. They believed by doing so he had opened up a window of opportunity to capitalize on the development for his political fortune. While his critics believe it would be Panama Leaks history repeating itself in Pakistan.
It would also be naive of not paying attention to the name given to Pandora Papers project, which has been named in reference to the Greek mythology’s character in whose box would be all the ills of humanity.
Considering our political chequered history which had always been difficult to predict, the Pandora Papers may open yet another Pandora’s box. Who knows?