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PM Imran sets up high-level cell to investigate Pakistanis named in Pandora Papers

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan has set up a “high-level cell” to investigate the Pakistani individuals named in the “Pandora Papers,” a major leak exposing financial secrets held by influential people across the world.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced it in a Twitter post. He said that the investigation body has been formed under the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission.

It will “question all individuals that have been named in Pandora Leaks and facts will be made public”.

More than 700 Pakistani politicians, businessmen, retired generals, bankers and owners of media houses own offshore companies, according to Pandora Papers released on Sunday.

The papers say that several well-known figures in the incumbent government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also own offshore companies.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has called the “Pandora Papers” its “most expansive exposé of financial secrecy yet,” noting that the investigation involved more than 600 journalists from 117 countries as well as over 11.9 million leaked files “covering every corner of the globe.”

Following the papers were released, the premier said that his government would investigate all Pakistanis named in the Pandora Papers and take action if any wrongdoing is established.

Imran Khan took to Twitter to make this announcement on Sunday evening. He wrote, “We welcome the Pandora Papers exposing the ill-gotten wealth of elites, accumulated through tax evasion & corruption & laundered out to financial “havens”. The UN SG’s Panel FACTI calculated a staggering $7 trillion in stolen assets parked in largely offshore tax havens.

“My over-two decades struggle has been premised on the belief that countries are not poor but corruption causes poverty because money is diverted from being invested in our people. Also, this resource-theft causes devaluation, leading to thousands of poverty-related deaths.

“Just like the East India Company plundered the wealth of India, ruling elites of developing world are doing the same. Unfortunately, the rich states are neither interested in preventing this large-scale plunder nor in repatriating this looted money.

“My govt will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers & if any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action. I call on the international community to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis.

“If unchecked, inequalities between rich & poor states will increase as poverty rises in the latter. This in turn will lead to a flood of economic migration from the poor to the rich states, causing further economic & social instability across the globe.”

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