Pandora Papers: Ministers should resign if burden of proof lies with them, says Ali Muhammad

ISLAMABAD: Reacting to the Pandora Papers, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan Tuesday said the ministers and government officials should resign if the burden of proof, prima facie, lies with them.

Currently, the Pandora Papers are at the stage of initial investigations, he said, adding that if the burden of proof lies with the ministers, “they cannot keep their portfolios morally”.

Responding to a question, the minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked the FBR, FIA and NAB with investigating revelations made in the Pandora Papers.

NAB is an autonomous body, Ali Muhammad said, adding that they have forwarded the case to the anti-graft watchdog and now it is up to them to take the case or not.

“We had no idea whose names have been mentioned in the Pandora Papers,” the minister said, adding that most of the people named in the papers have already declared their assets.

It seemed that the ministers will have to face no problem from the Pandora Papers.

Replying to another query about the Panama Papers, Ali said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had not declared his London flats in his documents submitted to the government.

The prime minister had formed a special, high-level commission to probe the Pandora Papers exposé, he said, adding that the commission will probe the assets and money trail of those named in the report.

Politicians, businessmen named in probe issue clarifications

Earlier, on October 3, the Pandora Papers, an investigation uncovering financial secrets held by high-profile individuals across the world, exposed the names of more than than 700 Pakistanis, politicians included in the probe rushed to issue clarifications.

On Sunday, the Pandora Papers revealed that several Pakistani politicians — including Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi, PTI’s Senator Faisal Vawda, son of PML-N’s Ishaq Dar, PPP’s Sharjeel Memon, the family of Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, and PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan, among others — have alleged links to offshore companies.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin had taken to Twitter and issued a clarification about his alleged offshore companies.

“In 2014, M E Developers LLC of Tariq bin Laden wanted to invest in Silkbank. They got in-principal approval from the SBP and then opened four offshore accounts to raise structured finance to raise funds,” Tarin had written.