Though I intended to document the roles of Pakistan’s economic hitmen, towards the end of this series, events related to Panama Leaks warrant a stich in time.

Though Panama papers have created international ripples, in which rulers have resigned or opened themselves to scrutiny, the reaction in Pakistan is entirely opposite. There is no question of ethical and moral responsibility. The intention is to fight back no matter how immoral it is. The government reckons that the stakes of those who rule the roost in Pakistan’s political parties and the establishment are high enough to make them rattling cans allowing the situation to fizzle out. Rather than focus on the trails of Pakistanis who have parked their assets in tax havens, the government desires to broaden the canvas to illogically arraign its most aggressive critics. The government also reckons that its peace overtures with India, dominance in Civil-Military relations (part of long term US policy in the region) and close ties with Arab Kingdoms will help it survive the crises. So it has unleashed a segment of media that builds a counter narrative. Not surprisingly, all such opinion makers are linked to SAFMA, the anti-military group of journalist with a soft corner for India. And so they are working overtime to project General Raheel Sharif’s honest intentions on accountability as foul.

Much before John Perkins published his ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’, ‘Foreign Affairs’ magazine went hoarse in the 80s and 90 publishing articles on bubble economies. It focused on South American countries where regime changes and dictatorships were perennial through tied aid, trade, economic manipulation and Pentagon meddling. This was accomplished through offshore companies, speculators and pliant third world rulers. The ASEAN crises of 1996-98 in the APEC Arc were part of this game. Corrupt rulers built fortunes in offshore tax havens, purchased properties abroad and skimmed every ounce of blood from their people. Because Panama is now being mentioned as one of the biggest havens, the story begins here.

Panamanian tax havens were created in 1903 after USA instigated a rebellion to wrest Panama from Colombia to build Panama Canal. J.P. Morgan facilitated Panama allowing John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company to register its ships, avoiding U.S. taxes and regulations.

Omar Torrijos, the Panamian ruler told John Perkins, “If your country is determined to exploit mine, the least I can do is help your corporations avoid paying taxes that support the CIA and Pentagon!”A supporter of South American nationalist movements Omar Torrijos died in a mysterious plane crash in 1981. Perkins alleges it was CIA. Tax havens have since snowballed. His most fatal comment is, “it is an economic system based on debt, fear, militarization, and the extraction of the resources that support it, consuming itself into extinction.”

Some of the world’s most autocratic rulers and minions find mention in Panama Papers. Much earlier many third world leaders removed disgracefully also stashed their wealth in similar havens. More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. Major international banks operating these rackets have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies through layering in offshore havens. These layers can never be unfolded unless those accused give consent for revealing such information. In case of Pakistan if the links lead to Middle East, the buck could stop there.

It is no surprise that some of the richest Muslim countries and staunchest supporters of USA are also mentioned. The tip of the iceberg is that, 140 politicians and public officials from around the world have offshore holdings. Over 220 Pakistanis stand exposed. 16 Shell companies belong to close associates of the Sharif family under five names; PPP has mention of four names with seven companies; Saifullah family has seven names and 34 shell companies; PMLQ two names. All others are Pakistani businessmen. Considering it to be two years old information, much more is likely to be revealed with time.

Politicians and businessmen of third world countries operate their shell companies in Panama and elsewhere under the watchful invisible state. Monarchies enjoying over-swelling economies and US backing create shell circles of their own. Third world minions initially for self-preservation and later as pawns get inextricably involved. As revealed by John Perkins, third world trail begin from massive overpriced infrastructures projects funded by International Financial Institutions under the watchful eyes of World Bank, Asian Development Bank, other multi-lateral donors and IMF. NGOs and organisations like USAID and UNDP chip in with their political objectives. Commissions are parked in shell companies as bearer certificates, real estate and business mergers. Once these money hungry tycoons are roped, they become vulnerable. No matter how patriotic they sound, the strings attached to them will force them to work against the national interests of their own countries.

This is precisely where Pakistan’s security perspectives become vulnerable.

The majority of Pakistan’s parliament is linked to three major political parties whose stakes are represented in the Panama Papers. It is no wonder then, that successive PPP and PML-N governments have been dragging their feet on terrorism and financial logistics. Time and again, they have shown inclination of getting closer to India be it the Bombay Attacks or the Pathankot incident. Over time, Pakistan’s vigour on Kashmir has diluted considerably. Themes of Memogate and Civil-Military Relations were deliberately planted to demean the armed forces. The recent arrest of Indian terrorism expert Kulbushan Jadhav has been played down by the government. If he was arrested in 2015, it explains Modi’s flying visit to Pakistan. The interests of Sharif Family with Indian Steel and Sugar tycoons are an open gossip.

Some politicians belonging to parties opposed to PPPP and PMLN have common business interests that shall tie them down. Others are hitmen planted by the corporate houses. So how will this furor lead to a logical conclusion in the interests of Pakistan?

First, the investigative agency must conform to international laws, enabling it to seek maximum assistance and evidence from international banks, business houses and investigators. A toothless commission will be a nonstarter.

Secondly, under the rules, opening of off shore companies is not illegal. However it has to be proceeded through the State Bank of Pakistan and SECP through declarations of income, remittances of profits and tax returns. Anyone who has not done is straightway guilty and a criminal.

Thirdly, to come clean, all politicians and businessmen with offshore connections must consent to investigation of their shell companies cutting through the deep layers of the international banking system and tax havens anywhere in the world. Such consent must come on affidavits.

Fourthly, specifically to Sharif family, if Nawaz Junior accepts ownership of shell companies from 2006, where are the purchase proceeds and from whom. He also claims ownership of three properties. So who owns the fourth property? If the family has hidden behind layers of sons, daughter and relatives, it must take the moral responsibility for such unethical behavior and blacklisted.

Fifthly, Pakistan’s snowballing debt liabilities in the past eight years particularly on foreign funded infrastructure projects must be put to sharpest scrutiny. This will reveal massive misappropriations.

Lastly, investigators must probe the mysterious resignations of Governors of State Bank of Pakistan Mr Saleem Reza and Mr. Anwar Yasin; Chairmen SECP Salman Shaikh and Muhammad Ali; and grill the resignation of Admiral Fasih Bokhari Chairman NAB. In all cases the government turned a blind eye to interventions of Iftikhar Chaudary, a certain media group and a Bank. Investigations will reveal that all barriers to illegal transfer of assets to overseas entities and acquisitions were thus removed. This is where the nexus of business houses, media groups and politicians will crystalize back to the opening paragraphs.

A regime change will be cosmetic promoting status quo. Just like evil, the daemons will return with vengeance. Pakistan needs a new social contract with a very strict and transparent regulation and accountability mechanisms. It is time to adieu very strong political executives.