A day back, most news outlets published the news about ‘Pandora Papers’. It is considered the largest journalistic investigation in history that claims to expose a shadow financial system benefiting the world’s elite. The leak involves about 12 million documents revealing hidden wealth, tax avoidance, money laundering, etc. US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has obtained this data.
Data from two countries, China and Pakistan, is considered vital in the face of the new ‘Cold War’ that is being played globally.
Pakistan is a country of contrasts. With one of the world’s highest inflation rates, piling debt, crumbling infrastructure, an almost empty exchequer and forex reserves, Pakistan is a nation that is almost bankrupt. However, the Pandora Papers have revealed the differences in the standard of living of the elites, mainly military and political top-brass, their relatives and the rest of Pakistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan promised a ‘new Pakistan’. However, the Pandora Papers have revealed key members of Khan’s inner circle, his financiers, cabinet ministers, their families of secretly having several companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth abroad.
Moreover, the so-called patriotic Pakistan Army commanders are no exception. Pandora Papers has exposed how military brass in Pakistan is silently using offshore money to get rich while the common Pakistani suffers for a piece of daily bread. Such a disclosure into the personal finances of Pakistan’s generals is rare, given the unwritten legal immunity they enjoy in their country.
Curiously, senior members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are not required to disclose their wealth publicly as per the law. This condition is enough to explain the duplicity with which the CCP runs a so-called communist economy while itself practising elitism.
The Pandora Papers leak reveals massive siphoning of funds from China to tax havens using shell companies. It has details about 2,000 Chinese citizens with shell companies in tax havens. With 1,892 shell company owners, China ranks among the nations with the most beneficiaries.
In 2014, as per an investigation similar to Pandora Papers, the CCP elites had moved around $4 trillion out of China into offshore tax havens. It had close relatives of China’s top leaders, including Xi Jinping, who hold secretive offshore companies in tax havens.
Pandora Papers is yet another revelation exposing the notoriety of regimes in countries like China and Pakistan. It highlights that their elite ruling classes flare up and abuse public sentiments related to ideology, religion, nation, etc., only to profiteer from it.