The centre of gravity of the Panama Leaks is away from Pakistan. In principle, it should be in Pakistan, but the entire political leadership went to London, thus shifting attention away from their normal arena. The focus could have been on Panama, but since the Panama police had finished its raid on the offices of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm which registered the offshore companies at the core of the Leak, without making any arrests, it remained in London.

A potential candidate for the location of the centre of gravity was Washington, where it was probably the most urgent problem on the agenda of the G20’s Finance Ministers during their meeting there. Originally the core group of the capitalist world, when it was the G7, it was expanded to include Russia after the collapse of the USSR, and its membership includes European countries, including the UK. As a matter of fact, the Panama Leaks are more a European product than American, because the need for tax havens is more direly felt in Europe than the USA, because of its higher income tax rates.

It is no surprise then, that the majority of the banks involved with Mossack Fonseca, are European. Indeed, the only head of government to have resigned so far, has been the Prime Minister of Iceland, and another whose resignation is being demanded, is that of UK, David Cameron himself.

It is perhaps painful to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif that his coming to London has not meant an escape from calls for resignation over the Panama Leaks, though he can probably take comfort in the calls being not for him, but of Mr Cameron. Indeed, the whole affair seems to have a definite European complexion. It did not seem to affect American tax havens, which exist in the states of Wyoming, Delaware and Nevada. It is to be noted that the banks worst hit by the Panama Leaks are European, for they are the ones who have the money to start off with.

The process is that Mossack Fonseca registers a company, in which certain persons have shares, and also the right to withdraw money from the company’s accounts. The company needs to have a bank account. Payments are made into that account, either by the person himself, of money earned legally but on which tax must be avoided, or by a bribing party.

Firms like Mossack Fonseca, if approached directly, not only have companies registered, but also open accounts for them. Similarly, banks arrange for the creation of such companies through such firms, for clients who don’t want any questions asked about the money they have.

There is a clear need for an investigation at the Pakistani end, as Pakistani politicians are involved. The real point of focus is the Prime Minister, not because he owns any shares in an offshore company, but because his sons and daughter do. He would be accounted a benaami beneficiary of theirs. However, his supporters insist that he and his family had kept their business and politics apart, and would surmount these allegations as they had those in the past.

Mian Nawaz may be the product of a military regime, but he is also a new phenomenon. He is one of those rich persons brought into politics who does not have landed property behind him. He is also seen as representing the middle class rather than the rich. Imran Khan’s PTI also appeals to the middle class, but Imran himself has a different appeal.

It is possible to trace the military as having put forward four post-Partition middle class candidates to rule Pakistan. The first was Ayub Khan, who was the most direct, being a military man, who came from the middle class, being the son of a risaldar-major who rose through the ranks to post of Commander-in-Chief, and then to President and CMLA.

Ayub was replaced by Yahya Khan, who was of the same pattern, but the loss in East Pakistan then made the remaining country turn to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Whatever his subsequent hanging made him, at that time he was still Ayub’s ex-Foreign Minister, and Yahya’s host in Larkana. He may have been a socialist when it came to the industrialists, but when it came to fellow landowners, he was strangely understanding.

He had been a creature of the military until he left the Cabinet, but he represented the military’s fascination with large landholdings. It is worth noting that the 1977 movement against Bhutto was funded by the newly emerging trader class, which was inclined to a sort of conservative religiousness. The military regime found its representative in Mian Nawaz Sharif, who also had the advantage of being the son of someone whose steel mill had been taken over by the PPP. The military and Mian Nawaz have had a strange relationship. It has not liked him, even though he has done his best to keep it happy. The rupture seems to date to Mian Nawaz’s first term, when then President Ishaq and he collided. Mian Nawaz famously said in a broadcast speech that he would not take dictation. That was a mistake, for it was to take dictation that he was to be there. He also awakened the envy at his wealth that is behind the furore over the Panama Leaks.

He was overthrown in his next tenure, but President Musharraf’s first choice, Umar Asghar Khan, not only died under mysterious circumstances, but his political platform failed to take off. Imran Khan was the next best bet to carry forward the military’s agenda.

COAS Gen Raheel Sharif’s remarks about corruption reflect the impulse to promote the PTI.

Those remarks about ending corruption being necessary to defeat militancy may be seen as a desire to impress on the USA the need for a military regime. There is a carefully cultivated impression that military regimes are honest while civilian are corrupt, even though military regimes have seen no less corruption. Government offices are still manned by civilian officials, who continue their corruption, and military men placed in ‘lucrative’ civilian positions during military rule have proven as human as their civilian counterparts.

It must be noted that the military, the PPP and the PML(N) are all still in the field. The Panama Leaks are almost surely not concerned with the effects on Pakistan, though the situation there emerging from the leaks will be exploited by interested parties. However, that the real motive might be to damage European interests and promote American is small consolation for those concerned.

The Panama Leaks have shown that the world is intricately interconnected. Tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering are global phenomena; but the risk of exposure is also global. So long as income tax is levied, there will be tax havens, but those havens as well as those using them will be exposed to the light of day. They may find that the cost of using these havens includes avoiding politics. The G20 is being seen as likely to crack down on tax havens because it wants to end the money laundering which funds militancy.

It might, but that does not mean creative accountants will not come up with other ideas on how to end the tax burden, equally dodgy legally and politically.

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Perhaps the Panama Leaks are merely the tip of the iceberg. After all, the leaks from just one firm in one tax haven has created such a ruckus. What if all the firms in all the tax havens were to unload their data? Not only will there be repetitions from the current crop, but there will be many new names. While some would be rueful about being exposed, many are probably thankful that their accountant stashed their funds somewhere else.