Earlier this year, Khawaja Asif called for a forensic audit of funds collected under Imran Khan Foundation (IKF) suggesting that the money raised for floods relief may have been misused. At the time the statement was mostly seen as an attempt to distract attention from ‘Panama Papers‘ scandal that was making headlines. Not much has been reported about this since the last two months.
Now, however, a new report has appeared that suggests the Defence Minister may have been onto something. Researchers at ‘Alternative Perspectives’ think tank have published some US government documents that show millions of dollars from IKF being transferred to an undisclosed account. According to the report IKF officials refused to give any comment when they were asked where the missing millions were sent.
Where did the millions that were donated to IKF for flood relief end up being sent? Will a forensic audit be done, or will IKF officials finally give some clarification of how the people’s donations were actually used? For some reason I don’t expect any answers…..
The Panama Papers are not going away. Nawaz Sharif spent the day in parliament discussing the scandal, and there appears to be little sign of resolution as opposition parties walked out in response. After calling for Nawaz to resign, Imran Khan has also found himself facing problems as he was exposed as having offshore accounts also. At least Immy was honest and admitted that his offshore company was created so he could avoid paying taxes. However Imran turns out not to be the only ‘Khan’ exposed in the scandal that won’t go away. It is not learnt that AQ Khan has also been exposed in Panama Papers.
AQ Khan has denied having any offshore companies and claimed that his family members signatures were all forged as part of a huge conspiracy against him by Habib Bank.
“I have never even heard the name of this company,” A.Q. Khan told Dawn over phone. “Neither did my wife and daughters. My brother, who died a few years ago, was with Habib Bank and, as you know, bankers are always up to their tricks and hanky panky,” he said without mincing words. “My wife and daughters never signed any documents to create this company. The signatures (on the incorporation paperwork) are surely false. My brother never discussed it with me and my family only heard about this company after the Panama Papers release.”
It’s not just what AQ Khan knew about these companies that is now coming under scrutiny, though. Many are also asking how this was not discovered until so late. One name that appeared in Panama Papers list was wife of AQ Khan, Hendrina. This is not a very common name and surely a researcher would have noted it, especially a researcher like Umar Cheema who is not only a Jang/Geo reporter but also a member of the ICIJ that broke the story! Is this another case of Army’s strangle hold on media?
Surely the powers that be knew that things could not be hidden forever. Now questions are being asked who else has been ‘missed’ in the long list of offenders? So far it has been civilians who have been in the bulls eye of the Panama Papers scandal, but we know thanks to former DG-ISPR Maj-Gen (r) Rashid Qureshi that Army has been covering up corruption among military officers since long. Will we soon learn than the names of military officers appear in the Panama Papers but were not previously reported? Will these too be blamed on ‘hanky panky’ at Habib Bank?
The leaked ‘Panama Papers’ have confirmed what everyone was already sure of: Political leaders are crooks who are bleeding the country dry. Equally predictable is the response of many who are calling for the Army to step in and stop the crooks from looting the country. However, buried under the popular narrative are some inconvenient facts that should be considered.
The ‘Panama Papers’, the latest treasure trove of secrets to be leaked on the internet didn’t bring any amazing revelations. They just confirmed what was basically an open secret: The world’s rich and powerful protect their wealth by hiding it in secret overseas accounts. The leaks have brought down at least one Prime Minister and sent the global elite scrambling. In Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finds himself in the cross hairs, but he is hardly alone.
Rehman Malik has also found himself getting attention for his ownership of a company in the Virgin Islands during the 2000s. The former Interior Minister has admitted that he was an owner of the company but that it was dissolved after a few years due to suffering losses and insists that everything about the business was perfectly legal and legitimate. Rehman Malik may be telling the truth about the legitimacy of this business, but what is more interesting was his first response to the leak, which was to term it a ‘RAW conspiracy‘, even though the documents exposed over 500 prominent Indians also. This is worth noting because it actually tells more about our problems than corruption.
If one thing has been learned from the ‘Panama Papers’, it is that corruption is not a Pakistani enterprise. It is a human one. What is a Pakistani enterprise, though, is trying to dismiss everything negative as a foreign conspiracy instead of admitting fault and fixing the problem.
Corruption in Pakistan is a Pakistani problem, just like corruption in India is an Indian problem. So also, terrorism in Pakistan is a Pakistani problem. Whatever Kulbashan Yadav was involved with, it does not explain every act of terrorism in Pakistan. Terming terrorism as a ‘RAW conspiracy’ to destabilise Pakistan only distracts from stopping the problem just like terming the Panama Papers as a RAW conspiracy attempts to distract from the corruption that is taking place here. Let us stop blaming RAW for everything. It gives too much credit to the Indian agency, and it prevents us from addressing our own problems.