Panama Papers — facts
Courtesy: S Rahman
There is some uproar in the media about the so-called Panama Papers that revolve around the offshore companies that are being painted as property of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif although it is a proven fact that both the Sharif brothers do not own any business abroad.
It is in fact Hussain Nawaz, Prime Minister's son who owns the offshore companies besides many apartments under them. These are bona fide, lawful properties of Hussain Nawaz who has not kept this ownership secret from anyone as he has already stated that he owned the offshore companies.
And as the facts go, Hussain Nawaz has been living abroad for many years and had invested there. The family members accompanying him had certain privileges under Pakistani laws and he had been doing business according to Pakistan's Foreign Act and other Pakistani laws including the income tax laws. According to these laws, any person who is living abroad for more than 180 days or more do not need to file the income tax papers and declare the assets.
Similarly those who work abroad know the fact that they are not questioned about their source of income.
As regards the frivolous allegations that certain circles are trying to level against Sharif brothers, these allegations could never be substantiated in the past nor is any concrete evidence available with anyone to prove these allegations now. Even Pervez Musharraf government failed to prove such allegations. In fact, General Musharraf had extensively probed their business issues but he could not establish anything illegal against them.
The fact remains that neither the Sharif family indulged in any sort of corruption nor did it whiten black money. Whatever the Sharif family earned, it was earned through labour and hard work of over 75 years.
It is also a widely known reality that the Sharif family fully follows all rules and regulations in doing any business.
As for the reports about PM's daughter Maryam Nawaz, there is no denying the fact that she is a trustee of Hussain Nawaz's offshore companies. Her name has been included as a trustee like various other people.
And who doesn't know that trustee is not the owner but a mere agent of the owner. All legal brains know it well that no trustee remains the owner of any business after his/her death and all businesses are run according to certain rules and regulations.In all, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's name is being used wrongly and all accusations being leveled against him or all the revelations of the Panama Papers are baseless and all Sharif family's offshore holdings are legal. It is also to be noted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif regularly pays his taxes and has no funds abroad.
Moreover, Hussain Nawaz has also been abiding by the British law and laws of other countries where it is a legal way to avoid unnecessary tax via offshore companies. It is also on record that the assets of two sons of the prime minister are legal and they are paying their taxes regularly and that the wealth of the two sons is not illegal.
The background of Sharif family's struggle and predicament is known to everybody. Their companies were nationalised by the then government after partition in 1970s and the family was forced out of the country in late 90s and was not allowed to come back to Pakistan for a long time which compelled the family and Nawaz Sharif's sons to establish their business abroad.
As for the sons of PM Nawaz Sharif, they left Pakistan in 1992 and therefore they are not resident. Pakistani tax law "says that if you are not staying in Pakistan for more than 180 days, then you are not required to declare your assets.”
This allegation business is not new against the Sharif family that has been targeted under allegations of corruption in the past as well, with the accusations having never been proven true.
Even Nawaz Sharif's deadliest foes could not prove a single corruption case against him. Benazir Bhutto never hurled any accusation against Nawaz Sharif for corruption nor could Musharraf prove anything against him.