Sorry, Hamlet, but there is not much rotten in the state of Denmark right now. Giving a lead to other serious democracies of the Western world, little Denmark is prepared to pay a hefty sum of money to get to the bottom of the Panama papers leak. As said Denmark’s tax minister, “Everything suggests that it is useful information. … We owe it to all Danish taxpayers who faithfully pay their taxes…. The material contains relevant and valid information about several hundred Danish taxpayers.” There may be other such democracies which will follow suit — Germany in 2014 paid for files from lesser leaks to pursue its suspect tax evaders.
There is much that is rotten in the state of Pakistan, termed an ‘Islamic republic,” but horribly lacking in what are recognised as Islamic norms of morality by those who know their religion — not by those who falsely practise its outer forms of rituals — those few that adhere to the morality demanded of them. The Danish government, made up of elected individuals who govern, who hold the respect of the electorate that put them where they are, admit to the world that they owe it to the taxpayers to dig out the truth about whether some 500 citizens could possibly be tax evaders. If they are found to be so, we can be reasonably sure that they will face due process.
No hope of due process here. The laughable, though sickening, list of only selected parliamentarians and the taxes they pay have absolutely no relevance or effect other than to provide news. And then, there is the disgraceful fact that out of some 200 million inhabitants of the Islamic Republic there are less than 1.5 million who actually file tax returns (half of them salaried who have no option as employers have to file) — truly suckers for punishment as they know just where their paid taxes end up.
Imran Khan, himself a dubious payer of taxes, can be faulted for the way he goes about trying to play the game of politics and only ending up looking like an idiot by doing so. What is wrong with him — he had the best chance we have had to rid ourselves of the damaged and damaging leftovers of the 1980s and he seems to have blown it — that is, unless he completely changes tack and right away. It’s doubtful if he has it in him; he has been and continues to be his own worst enemy.
But he cannot be faulted (other than with a tinge of hypocrisy) in his pursuit to get to the bottom of the murk surrounding the funds stashed away in the names of his progeny via Mossack Fonseca of Panama by the man who has had the amazing luck (his, not ours) to make it to the prime ministerial mansion thrice. Yes, as the Danish minister put it, those few Pakistanis who wilfully or otherwise pay their taxes are owed the truth.
Nawaz Sharif’s persistent evasion of the Panama issue is not foolish, it is guilt-ridden. If all is above board, why are we not told the source of the funds? Where did they come from, how were they accumulated, why and when were they squirreled out of this country or out of the other countries where he and his family hold enormous wealth? We have yet to learn the truth as to the famous Park Lane properties acquired in the early 1990s. The Mian has been on the make for decades, ever since he was the golden boy of Ziaul Haq and his generals. He owes explanations and revelations not only to the pathetically few taxpayers but to the nation at large. After all, his returns to his countrymen at large have not been exorbitant — lots and lots of roads and miles of motorways indeed, but on the moral plane somewhat of a void.
So, the best of luck to whoever in the quest for “relevant and valid information” — whatever be the ultimate motive.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2016.