Stories about Panama Papers

The Modi brand is here to stay

The man is bigger than his party. This is the crux of the results of five assembly elections in India, especially the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) that sends 80 MPs to Parliament. After these polls, there is no denying that Narendra Modi’s popularity overshadows not only the opposition but also his own party, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). There was similar support for our first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, as was there for his daughter Indira Gandhi during her regime. Modi is no Nehru and is also quite different from Indira; the background of the ‘chaiwala’ has ...

Read Full Post

Do Pakistan’s leaders care more about extravagant weddings than the well-being of their own citizens?

Imagine this: The lights danced on the ceiling and in her eyes. There was silk, chiffon, satin, velvet… all of it – their touch as light as water. Scores of boxes arrived from the jewellers filled with bright diamonds, gold as shiny as the sun, ocean-blue sapphires, scarlet rubies and emeralds as green as lush green leaves of an oak tree. There were glittering shoes, wafting smells of sumptuous food samples beckoning, piles of gift bags sharply wrapped up and more. Saleha hid behind her mother, staring at everything in pure awe. Her mother Jannat was an old cleaning lady who was a trusted servant of this ...

Read Full Post

Panamagate: Why are offshore companies such a big deal?

So it has finally come to this; a new five-judge larger bench, daily hearings and two adversaries baying for each other’s blood. Back in December, after a flurry of preliminary hearings of Panama Papers, the larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had hinted that the formation of an inquiry commission was now a real prospect. The new larger bench announced that the proceedings would be held on a daily basis, after the court’s annual winter vacations have come to an end. With the ex-Chief Justice gone, having reached superannuation in December, there has been a new bench, with ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan’s new army chief: A reality check

To many in Pakistan, Qamar Javed Bajwa is an unknown soldier. Yet yesterday, he became arguably the country’s most powerful person when he swore in as its next army chief. Testimonials about Bajwa are overwhelmingly positive. Those who know him say he’s a proponent of strong civil-military relations – the main reason, according to one account, why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a man who has often sparred with the army, selected Bajwa for the job. He’s not seen as reflexively hostile to India, and he once served under an eventual Indian Army chief while on a United Nations mission in Congo. He’s regarded as low-key and camera-shy, yet also ...

Read Full Post

Should Imran Khan abandon his quest to expose alleged corruption?

Right then. Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Tahirul Qadri and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and possibly the Lal Masjid folk as well, are scheduled to ‘lockdown’ the capital on November 2, 2016. Pakistan may be many things, but man oh man, politically boring is definitely not one of them.  So here’s the deal: some of the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) kids had offshore companies in their name linked to properties held abroad – leaked by the hacks into Mossack-Fonseca. Imran Khan (the opposition) demanded the PM step down on moral grounds, and the PM didn’t. An investigation was supposed ...

Read Full Post

Indirect taxation is a regressive move affecting the poor – make FBR independent instead

Taxes are what make governments work and allow other functions to operate smoothly. It maintains the country’s infrastructure, funds government operations, facilities and the logistics involved in running a country. All across the world, governments’ levy taxes from its citizens to generate revenue to run their affairs and benefit their subjects in ways untold. Taxes are the price paid by civilised societies for the opportunity to remain civilised. Being the lifeblood of governments, there is no concept of governance and socio-economic development without taxes. Paying taxes is our civic duty, along with a requirement of the law and its non-payment is backed by sanctions. Is ...

Read Full Post

Dear God, where’s my T-shirt?

Dear God, I have a serious complaint to make. You must know… but of course you do… that there are now T-shirts out there with that man Raheel’s picture on them. God, this is too much! I am the PM not he! Why have you allowed this to happen?? Please God, remember that I am still weak although I don’t look it, because I have just had a very big operation and although many people don’t believe it (they say I went to my London apartment in Mayfair… how delicious that sounds… just to hide when that stupid Panama information leaked out but you ...

Read Full Post

Nawaz Sharif underwent serious surgery: Should a deputy PM have been appointed?

Amidst heated demands of resignation following his family’s deep involvement in offshore tax activity coming to light with the Panama Paper reveals Prime Minister Sharif hastily left for London last week. Jumping where they saw opportunity, his political detractors, in a game of ‘I told you so’ accused the country’s leader for having fled for good until news surfaced, from within the PM’s family camp, that he had in fact gone for a necessary, emergency open heart surgery – a risky yet routine procedure and the PM’s second such surgery in recent years. At 66 years of age, the prime minister of Pakistan ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan: A democracy abducted

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent exposure in the Mossack Fonseca Scandal comes as no surprise to those familiar with Pakistan’s perennial opportunities for corruption amongst her ruling classes. While enraging much of the nation, the surfacing of these ugly realities has inspired its Islamist clergy. Painting themselves even more ‘holier than thou’, Pakistan’s religious clerics are uniting in extraordinary consensus. Seizing on Sharif’s suddenly weakened position, they gather to oppose the Anti-Honour Killing amendment bill, the Anti-Rape amendment bill and the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act presented in Pakistan’s joint parliamentary session last month. Apparently laws containing ‘remedies for victims of violence’, criminalising ‘all forms of violence against women’ ...

Read Full Post

Are Muslim refugees destined for a life of sex slavery?

“Listen lady, if you don’t want to be whisked away to a brothel in Brussels and your three girls trafficked into pedophile rings or have their organs removed, please go back to Pakistan. Stop trying to make your way into Europe.” These were the words of British aid worker Sajad Shah to a Pakistani mother with three very young daughters. The woman was seeking asylum in Germany, along with thousands of Syrians and Iraqi refugees, after claiming she was being persecuted as a Christian in her home country. The founder of the charity Love for Humanity, Sajad Shah has been helping in ...

Read Full Post