Offshore holdings: Govt, PTI step up war of words

Published: May 15, 2016
Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid addressing a press conference. PHOTO: NNI

Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid addressing a press conference. PHOTO: NNI

ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan’s admission that he once owned an offshore company provided the much needed ammunition to the government which had been left scratching its head in the wake of the chief justice’s refusal to form a ‘toothless’ judicial commission to investigate revelations in the Panama Papers that dozens of Pakistanis were among hundreds of world politicians, businessmen and sport and showbiz celebrities who owned secret offshore holdings.

Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid came out all guns blazing on Saturday, bombarding the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman with blistering questions. The PTI put up an aggressive defence offering its leaders who allegedly have offshore holdings for accountability.

“The PTI tops the list of Pakistan’s political parties having offshore companies as six of its senior leaders have offshore holdings,” Rashid said at a news conference in Islamabad. He added that Imran owns an offshore company since 1983, while a PPP member set up a similar company 10 years later. “The PML-Q also has one offshore company, but none of PML-N’s MPs or ministers or even the prime minister has an offshore company.”

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However, Rashid singled out Imran for his criticism. “The PTI chief is ‘Baba Adam’ (pioneer) offshore companies. He concealed truth and promoted falsehood,” he said. “It’s strange that he remembers the runs made and wickets taken during 1983, but forgets the offshore company he had set up that year.”

The minister questioned why did Imran conceal facts about his offshore company, such as why it was set up, its business deals, tax payment and the property bought through it? Why Imran had not disclosed his offshore company or source of income in his declaration of assets, he asked. “Imran will have to answer all these questions before parliament and the proposed judicial commission.”

Referring to Imran, Rashid said the person who had triggered a debate on the Panama Papers has been exposed. “Morally, Imran has now no right to continue politics as he has turned out to be the pioneer of setting up offshore companies,” he added.

Speaking to journalists in London on Friday, the PTI chairman admitted that he had formed an offshore company over 30 years ago so that he could dodge British taxes for purchasing a flat in London.

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Imran repeatedly mentioned three reasons for setting up offshore firms in his tweets, speeches and press conferences namely tax evasion, hiding black money and money laundering, Rashid said. “But now he [Imran] has fallen in a ditch he dug for the others.”

The political grouping, meanwhile, sought to justify its chairman’s offshore company. “Imran Khan had formed the offshore company keeping in view the high rate of taxes in the UK, but it has been dormant for years,” PTI Information Secretary Naeemul Haq told a news conference. He insisted Imran’s assets were well known but no one had any clue about those of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Bu when asked about Imran’s current source of income, Haq had nothing to say except mentioning the PTI chairman’s visit to India during the T20 World Cup this year. “The income from the tour was sufficient for him till date.”

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Responding to another allegation, he challenged the government to start probes against those six PTI politicians it thought had offshore companies at the earliest. “The PTI is ready for accountability,” he added.

Haq also warned of street agitation, protests and marches if the government did not change its attitude. “Former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has also called on Premier Nawaz Sharif to step down,” he said.

Imran is scheduled to return to Pakistan on Monday to attend the ongoing session of the National Assembly where the prime minister is supposed to answer questions raised by the opposition, but PTI sources did not confirm if their leader would attend the session.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Irfan_Sydney
    May 15, 2016 - 9:52AM

    Imran Khan never declared his offshore company in his nomination papers submitted to the Election Commission , while giving a declaration on oath in the nomination papers for the last elections that neither he nor any member of his family owned any company. Lying under oath is perjury. Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice. In many countries perjury is an indictable offence. If he ever became the PM of the country people would say that even the PM has lied under oath to deceive the court. Recommend

  • jojo
    May 15, 2016 - 10:25AM

    As per this government there is no difference between Creating offshore company when you are a PM and buying properties in London and buying flat in London when some one was playing professional cricket there with all the UK income tax payed, the question is from where the money came to buy properties, Khan bought properties when he was playing cricket and PM when he as running country..Recommend

  • observer
    May 15, 2016 - 10:37AM

    Khan keeps on shooting in his own foot. His obsession, Ego and Arrogance are dominating him so much now that he is loosing control. He is so eager to get to this power seat. Not because of the poor in Pakistan not because he really will improve anything in this country. He himself is so entangled with money, people who finance him to live that high life style he needs just as much as the fame and glamor. He at the end of the day is so complexed and wants to step up to his ex wife status without her influence to show his Sons that he has not just been sitting idle to be financed by his rich friends. In actual he has achieved a lot he was an excellent cricketer made a difference with his social work building the Cancer Hospital. I simply do not understand why he is so complexed about his humble background. That is why his obsession
    with the sharifs is getting him out of control. His accusations and blame game his Double standard is now hurting him as he can not keep up with all he claims to be. Recommend

  • Imran Qadri
    May 15, 2016 - 12:58PM

    Its only Imran’s right to use services of Tax accountants to avoid taxes and conceal his income from taxman. If others use such services or use such similar legal options and even though they are running legal businesses according to law of the land they are operating in but still Mr “not so” CLEAN” Khan has issues with them and creates a fuss that why they are using Tax accountants and offshore companies to avoid taxes.

    Sharifs have seen their business getting hit several times in their business life due to political enmity,victimization,nationalization,fall of Bangladesh etc. So PM’s sons had legitimate reason to setup and run business outside the country when unconstitutional military ruler whom Imran was supporting for his own selfish reasons was ruling the country and was after their blood so it was simply not possible for them to run business here. Recommend

  • JB
    May 15, 2016 - 2:32PM

    To all of IK’s detractors , PTI has offered themselves up for accountability whereas your PM is running away from it. If your PM is so innocent, why does he run away from it?Recommend

  • pervaiz
    May 16, 2016 - 2:18PM

    IK mission is only to become PM of country but his actions are showing to everyone that he is not capable to become even a councilor in Peshawar Municiple committee.Recommend

  • zam
    May 16, 2016 - 2:21PM

    IK has not declared his offshore company , but purpose of that company was only to buy a flat and he never concealed that flat, it has been declared even in 2002 asset declaration. Secondly, he has documentary proof for all of this financial activities. He did not transfer out of Pakistan. He brought money to Pakistan. Neither he is running away to answer these questions nor he is blaming others to avoid his accountability.

    There is clear difference of attitude, he never said don’t ask me about my assets and you are also corrupt etc etc. Problem is we expect from Ik 100% and even if he is felling short 1% we target that. On the other hand even if government is performing 1% we look at that 1% only we don’t look at what 99% what wrong they have committed.

    Gov is so clever they have made offshore company itself as illegal. Having offshore company is not illegal , the money used to establish that should be legal. Specially if that has been transferred out of Pakistan then it must have legitimate trail. Recommend

  • Irfan_Sydney
    May 16, 2016 - 4:55PM

    Well saidRecommend

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