On Sunday night, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released the Pandora Papers, a massive plethora of private financial records that named national and international personalities among 700 Pakistanis, including cabinet officials, accused of hiding financial secrets through offshore companies.
According to the ICIJ, prominent members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including members of the cabinet, their relatives, and important funders, have privately held plenty of corporations and trusts worth millions of dollars. According to the ICIJ, military commanders have been involved as well, although the records “documents contain no suggestion that Khan himself owns offshore companies”.
Since the news that the specifics of the leaked papers will be released on Sunday night, political tensions have been high. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s name was not included in the Panama Papers, but it would be fascinating to watch whether the opposition parties can exploit the Pandora Papers in the same manner that Imran Khan used the Panama Papers against the previous government once the scandal emerged.
In keeping with his anti-corruption and accountability narrative, Prime Minister Imran “welcomed” the Pandora Papers and promised to scrutinize any Pakistanis mentioned in it, stating that “if any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action”.
Umar Cheema, a journalist who worked on the ICIJ investigations alongside a colleague from a local newspaper, Fakhar Durrani, revealed that over 700 Pakistanis were named in the Pandora Papers and that they discreetly managed to move massive amounts offshore, saying that every effort had been made to ensure accuracy in the report and therefore it was now up to the concerned authority to move forward.
Individuals whose assets have been disclosed include Pakistan’s finance minister, Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, and his family, as well as the son of Imran’s former finance and revenue adviser, Waqar Masood Khan. The records also reveal Arif Naqvi’s offshore operations, a prominent PTI donor who is facing fraud charges in the U.S.
Those in attendance include Water Resources Minister Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, Faisal Vawda, Arif Usmani, Prime Minister’s Ambassador at Large for Foreign Investment Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, and Adnan Afridi, Managing Director of the National Investment Trust. The family of Industries Minister Khusro Bakhtyar has also been identified, as has the son of Waqar Masood, the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant who just resigned. Arif Masood Naqvi, the founder of the bankrupt equity firm Abraaj, Punjab Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan, and business tycoon Tariq Shafi are among those named in the data. Ishaq Dar’s son and Sharjeel Memon, both opposition members, have been mentioned in the Pandora Papers.
Further development will be made soon and more details will come out which is surely going to increase the political temperature of the country in the coming days.