PM lauded for reiterating anti-corruption stance after Pandora Papers reveal

Several members of PTI’s inner circle including Shaukat Tarin, Aleem Khan, Khusro Bakhtiar appear in Pandora Papers

Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised a transparent investigation of Pakistanis named in Pandora Papers, a stance that has received a nod of approval from many in the country.

After the Pandora Papers went live on Sunday evening, the PM stated in a tweet that he ‘welcomed’ the expose on corrupt elements in Pakistan. Khan said that he had struggled for over two decades against corruption and maintained that countries did not automatically become poor but the diversion of resources from the impoverished to the rich was the main reason behind socio-economic inequality.

Khan cited the British East India Company, which plundered India’s resources many years ago and said that developed nations were doing the same with developing ones by hiding their assets in offshore companies. The PM promised strict investigation of and action against Pakistanis who appeared in the Pandora Papers.

American filmmaker Cynthia Ritchie, who resides in Pakistan, said Khan’s statement made her proud that even though he was surrounded by ‘bad apples’, he did not succumb to fraudulent activities himself. Ritchie said the corruption that came to surface with the assistance of the west should be strictly punished.

Several Twitter users echoed Ritchie’s sentiments, with many among them hoping that Khan would act against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) members mentioned in the Pandora reveal. A user said that he fully supported Khan and applauded him for promising punishment for those who fostered corruption at the expense of the impoverished in Pakistan.

A user was thankful for a leader like Khan who was cleared of any wrongdoing as his name was absent from the financial documents. She added that everyone looked forward to Khan’s commitment to bringing all the names mentioned to justice.

Policy analyst Syed Muhammad Ali said that Khan’s response only strengthened his overarching rhetoric against corruption. The Pandora Papers, Ali said, had shunned Khan’s critics and would help get rid of corrupt officials in the country.

Many called Khan a committed leader that brought them hope for betterment in Pakistan. A user said Khan was ‘a true leader’ who won with his stance again.

One user was just elated that Khan was not one of the over 700 Pakistanis who were named in the reveal. They said they stood justified in voting for an honest and trustworthy leader.

‘Malicious propaganda’ by the opposition was thwarted with Khan’s response, said another user. She added that everyone focused on the names in the Pandora Papers but did not reckon with the western operations that enabled their corruption in the first place.

One user pointed out that Khan’s commitment to justice was missing in the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government when their elite was named in Panama Papers in 2016.

The Panama leaks created a frenetic political situation in Pakistan as PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and their children were all named in the scandalous leak for having offshore assets that were undeclared in Pakistan. Khan, who was in opposition at the time, called the leaks a ‘god-sent’ aid in combatting corruption.

This time around, several members of Khan’s inner circle were named in the Pandora Papers for alleged ownership of assets outside Pakistan. These names included Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Punjab Food Minister Aleem Khan, Federal Industries and Production Minister Khusro Bakhtiar and former federal water resources minister Faisal Vawda.