Pakistan's Jamaat-i-Islami seeks Supreme Court order for inquiry in Pandora Papers case

Published 09 Nov,2021 via Dawn–Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Sirajul Haq filed in the Supreme Court on Monday a petition seeking a directive for initiation of an inquiry against Pakistani citizens whose names have surfaced in the recently leaked [Pandora Paper]s.

The present petition is a continuation of an earlier [plea] also moved before the apex court, seeking an investigation against 436 Pakis­tani individuals whose identities were revealed in the Panama Papers leaks in 2016.

Moved through Advocate Muhammad Ishtiaq Ahmed Raja on behalf of the JI emir, the fresh petition argued that the process of investigation into the matter was to be started by the government, but neither the names of the persons revealed in the Pandora Papers were being acknowledged by the government nor was any action proposed by it so far.

According to media reports, top cabinet members, ministers, media moguls, relatives of the army officers and powerful businessmen have been named in the Pandora Papers. Released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the papers revealed that some people had secretly owned an array of offshore companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth.

“Since a similar petition is also pending before this court, the petitioner seeks the indulgence of the Supreme Court for a directive to the government for the purpose of inquiry/investigation,” the JI petition contended.

It said that information about the names of the individuals surfaced in the Pandora Papers had been published in which the names of a number of people were disclosed.

Talking to reporters after filing the petition, Sirajul Haq regretted that the opposition parties had failed to raise any voice for investigation against those whose names had surfaced in the Pandora Papers. He also deplored the lack of substantive accountability system in the country to prosecute those responsible for the transfer of money from Pakistan to foreign countries.

He recalled that the JI was one of the first parties which had approached the apex court when the Panama Papers came with a request that inquiries should be initiated against all those who had been named in the papers. But, he added, Imran Khan as the PTI chairman, who had also moved a similar petition before the apex court seeking accountability, targeted only former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and got him disqualified on the allegations of having a UAE iqama.

Mr Haq said that around 700 people had been named in the Pandora Papers against whom investigations should be launched on the orders of the Supreme Court. He said the national exchequer was deprived of a huge amount of Rs184 billion by the sugar mafia, whereas the state suffered another chunk of Rs220bn in the wheat flour scam.

He said the list was continuing as the petroleum scam cost the country another Rs25bn, the energy crisis Rs350bn and the LNG issue Rs100bn. “There is an elite capture on the resources of the country while the ordinary people have to struggle for even basic necessities of life,” he alleged.

This is the second such petition as earlier the Transparency International of Pakistan (TIP), a non-partisan coalition against corruption, had approached the Supreme Court on Oct 16 against the Pakistani citizens named in the Pandora Papers and Panama Papers, asking them to clear themselves by assuring that the investments made in offshore companies were not derived through illegal means.

The petition, filed by Advocate Hashmat Habib on behalf of TIP Managing Director Syed Adil Gillani, requested the apex court to order the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to launch an inquiry and determine whether the individuals whose names had surfaced in the Pandora Papers and Panama Papers committed or indulged in any wrongdoing while transferring funds to the offshore companies.

The petition pleaded that the FBR should also be asked to direct such individuals to furnish an explanation with supporting documentary evidence that the sources of funds invested were sent to the offshore companies from Pakistan by following all legal provisions and no grey channels were used.

The foreign assets of such Pakistani citizens who could not justify such transactions should be frozen by the FBR forthwith within three months, in addition to initiation of legal proceedings to recover these assets under the Asset Recovery of Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative as suggested in the UN Convention Against Corruption which was also ratified by Pakistan in August 2007, the petition pleaded.

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