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The Panama leaks conundrum

11.5 million files! The ‘Panama Papers’- the largest document leak in history caused an outrage with their shocking revelations on offshore banking all over the globe. The involvement of 12 heads of states (including six currently in power) attracted even more public attention towards the issue. People stood up to demand answers and hold their rulers accountable. Nations rose to question how the very people they elected to represent them could dodge taxes, hide their wealth and still claim to have the moral authority to govern them. How could they ask for foreign investors to invest in their countries while they stashed their money in offshore firms?

Panama Papers

It initiated a global debate on whether tax avoidance and tax evasion should be considered the same thing under the law, on how tax havens can be cleared up and how the super-rich can pay their share. Protests followed in front of 10 Downing Street to demand David Cameron’s resignation. The Prime Minister of Iceland stepped down.

In Pakistan, the news was met with no shock. Sure, a few new flashes here and there and a parliamentary session that never ran on PTV. Talk show hosts got something to talk about for a few days besides the PTI-MQM rivalry. But no major public demonstrations, no demands for accountability from the citizens of the country. Some self-proclaimed intellectuals on news media even lectured the nation about how irrelevant the issue was and how we should be focusing on real issues like poverty and hunger in the country. I wonder if poverty and hunger cease to exist when you conduct election transmissions on by-polls all day long.

We fail to grasp the point because we are uneducated on how true democracies really function. We have accepted corruption and bad governance as our eternal fate and that is the very reason our state of affairs is never likely to change. We have turned most brilliant political idea of the 20th century into a joke that nobody even laughs at anymore.

The Panama papers are not irrelevant. And they are not a waste of time. They are yet another opportunity for the ever so lazy and self-indulgent Pakistani nation to change their fate and hold their rulers accountable for their actions. The 200 billion dollars in the Swiss Banks are OURS. We own every single penny Nawaz Sharif’s children used to purchase their apartments in Britain.

Yes, our people are dying of hunger and committing suicide over poverty. And yes the media needs to highlight those issues. But why turn a blind eye when the tax money of these very people is being laundered, stacked up in offshore companies to purchase billion dollar properties for Nawaz Sharif’s children.

Just because these are stories we have been hearing for a while now, should we dismiss them as unimportant? Just because we doubt anything is likely to change as a result of our actions, should we stop trying? Just because we have been lied to so many times, should we stop believing in the truth? And most importantly if corruption is rampant, should it be acceptable?

These are the questions we need to ask ourselves as a nation. We need to decide if we are going to give up on any hope and lead our lives complaining about how things are never likely to change. Are we going to allow ourselves to be plundered by the very people that we send to the parliament? Are we going to accept dishonesty and corruption as a part of democracy? Or are we going to decide it’s been enough already?

Out of the millions of people that migrated from India in 1947, not even half made it to Pakistan. Tales of torture, loot, mass-murder and rape still echo loud for those that witnessed the migration. Look around you and ask yourselves if this was the country they shed their blood for. The answer for what to do next will come to you itself.

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