Pandora Papers roil Pakistani politics; PM pledges investigation

The publication of the Pandora Papers is roiling Pakistani politics, sparking calls for the prime minister’s resignation and a pledge to investigate the officials who were included in the massive document leak.

The top official at the Pakistan Muslim League, a major political party in the country, called for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation on Sunday following the publication of the Pandora Papers.

Khan was not named in the documents, however a number of his allies were, including Finance Minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin and the son of Khan’s former finance adviser. The papers also detail offshore dealings of Arif Naqvi, a prominent donor to Khan’s party.

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Ahsan Iqbal, the secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League, contended that the Pandora Papers leave “no moral justification for [Khan] to retain the post of the premier,” according to Dunya News.

Khan, in a series of tweets on Sunday, made no mention of the calls for his resignation, but did vow to investigate officials who were named in the documents.

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

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The Pandora Papers were published by a number of major news outlets this weekend, revealing a trove of leaked documents containing secret assets and agreements involving some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful leaders.

The documents were originally leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington, D.C., which then passed along access to the Guardian, BBC Panorama, Le Monde, the Washington Post and other news outlets.

The papers are made up of nearly 12 million files from companies that were hired to establish offshore accounts in countries such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

Thirty-five world leaders, 300 other public officials and more than 100 billionaires are named in the documents, including former presidents, prime ministers, judges, mayors, military generals and others.

Khan on Sunday said the Pakistani government “welcome[s] the Pandora Papers exposing the ill-gotten wealth of elites, accumulated through tax evasion & corruption & laundered out to financial ‘havens.’”

He said the “ruling elites of the developing world” are adding to poverty-related deaths.

“My over-two decades struggle has been premised on the belief that countries are not poor but corruption causes poverty because money is diverted from being invested in our people. Also, this resource-theft causes devaluation, leading to thousands of poverty-related deaths,” Khan said.

“Just like the East India Company plundered the wealth of India, ruling elites of developing world are doing the same. Unfortunately, the rich states are neither interested in preventing this large-scale plunder nor in repatriating this looted money,” he said.