Pandora Papers ruffles Pakistan politics

The news published documents has revealed names of 700 Pakistani individuals and members of PM Imran Khan's cabinet, inner circle, including cabinet ministers, their families, who have secretly owned an array of companies holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth

AgenciesUpdated: Tuesday, October 05, 2021, 12:01 AM IST
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Islamabad: The release of Pandora Papers containing names of the close associates of Imran Khan has ruffled Pakistani politics and sparked calls for the resignation of the PM.

The news published documents has revealed names of 700 Pakistani individuals and members of PM Imran Khan's cabinet, inner circle, including cabinet ministers, their families, who have secretly owned an array of companies holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth.

Among those whose holdings have been exposed are finance minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin and his family, and the son of Khan's former adviser for finance and revenue, Waqar Masood Khan. The records also reveal the offshore dealings of a top PTI donor, Arif Naqvi.

Members of Opposition's Pakistan Muslim League party called for Imran Khan's resignation following the publication of the Pandora Papers.

Forced on the back foot, Imran Khan on Sunday said on Twitter that his government will probe all citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers.

"My govt will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers & if any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action. I call on the international community to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis," Khan tweeted.

According to the ICIJ report, Pakistan's civilian government and military leaders have been hiding vast amounts of wealth in a country plagued by widespread poverty and tax avoidance.

ICIJ said Pakistan's elites use of offshore services that rival the findings of the Panama Papers, which led to Sharif's downfall and helped propel Imran Khan to power three years ago.

The revelations are part of the Pandora Papers, a new global investigation into the shadowy offshore financial system that allows multinational corporations, the rich, famous and powerful to avoid taxes and otherwise shield their wealth.

The probe is based on more than 11.9 million confidential files from 14 offshore services firms leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with 150 news organisations around the world, according to ICIJ.

The document has revealed many key military leaders of Pakistan and intergenerational wealth transfer. The findings offer a portrait of an unaccountable military elite with extensive personal and family offshore holdings.

Pakistan Prime Minister is surrounded by people - cabinet ministers and their families, donors and other political allies - who have holdings hidden offshore, according to ICIJ.

Pakistan's Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and some members of his family own four offshore companies. Omer Bakhtyar, the brother of Khan's minister for industries, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, transferred a USD 1 million apartment in the Chelsea area of London to his elderly mother through an offshore company in 2018.

Faisal Vawda, Khan's former minister for water resources set up an offshore company in 2012 to invest in UK properties. He resigned in March amid a controversy over his status as a dual US-Pakistan national. The financial backers of Imran Khan are prominent in leaked documents, according to ICIJ.

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