The rich and the corrupt hiding their wealth and income

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Since the European colonial powers left Africa, Asia and Latin America, attempts have been made to use the official transfer of financial resources to nations which, in one way or another, have been harmed by colonial rule. In today’s work, this would be called “reparations,” the transfer of money from those who benefited to those they dominated. Slavery was the worst form of this type of domination, but there were other types of suppressions. In several conferences and official meetings, the former colonial powers pledged to reverse the flow of resources that had occurred during the colonial period. The most frequently used measure was the proportion of the collective GDP of rich countries that would be provided in the form of aid to poor countries. At the start of the debate on the issue, it was agreed that the rich would transfer to the poor and underdeveloped at least 0.7 percent of the GDP from the former. But this goal was missed more often than expected. Now the world has learned that a different kind of transfer is now being made, from developing countries to developed countries.

First there was the Panama Papers made public in 2016 and now, five years later, we have the Pandora Papers. Both provided detailed accounts of how the wealthy hid their wealth and income. The income part of the revelation was important since most countries, while not directly taxing wealth, taxed income. Those who wanted to pay little or no tax hid how much they made and how those gains were made. Pakistan’s wealthy were featured in both reports, but they were not enough to provide information to authorities to take action. In this context, I should do a bit of history.

The request did not come directly from Prime Minister Imran Khan, who then took over the country’s highest administrative post after his party’s victory in the May 2018 elections. I was asked if I could write a short article for the new prime minister outlining my take on the priorities the new administration should follow now that he and his political party held the reins of political and economic power in their hands. The document was requested by a good friend of the new Prime Minister with the indication that it would be forwarded to him. I was hesitant, but I was repeatedly pressed to put my thoughts on paper. I finally accepted.

Few in Pakistan follow the discipline of “psephology” – the science of elections – let alone practice it. It asks people why they voted. Looking briefly at census data and Election Commission data, I had come to the conclusion that young people in Pakistan’s urban centers were Khan’s strongest supporters. They brought him to power in 2018 and should keep him there in 2023 during the next legislative elections. The under 30s constitute the bulk of the population. Pakistan, at the median age of 24 – the age at which half the population is younger – has one of the youngest populations in the world who, like the youth of the world, have a vested interest in seeing its good. -be economic improve. They also want to participate in the politics of the countries in which they live. The Arab Spring of 2011 was a living reflection of these youthful aspirations.

Urban youth were delighted that, during the 2018 campaign, Imran Kahn put a lot of emphasis on eradicating corruption in the country. However, in my short article I said that if the subject of corruption had caught the attention of young people, he should not promise that if he came to power, this social evil would be eradicated in a matter of months. I wrote that corruption in most parts of the world takes time to control, let alone eliminate. I am told that after reading my article, Imran Khan said that while he liked most of what I said, he did not agree that it would take a long time to be done with it. Corruption. He tried ; he and his government tackled corruption in the upper echelons. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that he still dominates much of what government does.

The Washington Post has partnered with a number of other media organizations to collect what is known as the Pandora Papers. As of this writing (October 7), a half-dozen articles based on more than 11.9 million records obtained have appeared in the Washington newspaper. This work was carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). “The treasure, nicknamed the Pandora Papers, exceeds the dimensions of the Panama Papers investigation five years ago,” wrote the first Washington post cover of Pandora Papers. The data that appeared in the Panama Papers came from a single law firm, but the new material encompasses the records of 14 separate financial services entities operating in countries and territories such as Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Belize and the British Virgin Islands.

In a note to readers of her journal, editor-in-chief Sally Buzbee wrote that the decision to publish a series of articles on Pandora data was intended to “shed light on aspects of the international financial system that have worked with little. or no surveillance ”. She assured her readers that “by examining nearly thousands of documents over many months, The post office and its partners found no inaccuracies or that the newspaper’s publication was aimed at any particular individual or government.

So far, there have only been fleeting references to Pakistan in the first two stories. In one of them, The post office said that “millions of dollars were held by members of the government of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan”. The journal also published in the first issue in which it reported on the results of ICIJ’s research, several reactions from world leaders whose countries received a lot of attention at the start of the coverage. The only reaction that was not defensive to the findings of Pandora was that of Imran Khan. “In Pakistan, a prime minister who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform has promised to investigate every citizen mentioned in the files,” analysts wrote in one of the stories. The newspaper pointed out that “the documents contain no suggestion that Khan himself owns offshore companies.” In tweets echoing his campaign rhetoric, Imran Khan criticized “the ruling elites of the developing world”, which he said “contribute to thousands of poverty-related deaths”. He said his government welcomed the leak for “exposing the ill-gotten wealth of the elites” and said global economic inequality should be seen as a crisis similar to climate change. My government will investigate all of our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Paper and if wrongdoing is found we will take appropriate action. “

According to Pakistani newspapers which also followed the story, some 700 Pakistani names were in the Pandora collection. Imran Khan moved quickly; on October 3, a day after western newspapers started publishing articles using data from Pandora, the prime minister announced the formation of a high-power cell to investigate whether the 700 people from Pakistan who have been identified as having hidden assets abroad. The names included members of the federal government, army generals, and media house leaders. The prime minister said members of his political party should clear their names. I will follow the story in these columns as it evolves.

Posted in The Express Tribune, October 11e, 2021.

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