Leakception: Panama Papers expose our stupidity

Rehman Malik wants us to believe that the Panama Papers, 11 million documents, 2.6 terrabytes of data, were fabricated by the Indian intelligence agency RAW to defame him and Benazir Bhutto. This seems plausible. Unfortunately innocent bystanders like Putin and other minor personalities have been caught in the crossfire and the whole thing has gotten out of hand.

Rehman Malik obviously does not have a very high opinion of the average Pakistani brain and he is not the only one. Rana Sanaullah also holds similar beliefs. Parvez Rashid would definitely have blamed it all on Imran Khan if it weren’t for these weird complications about David Cameron’s dad. He still desperately wants to do that, you can see it in his eyes. You can almost feel him clench his fists out of frustration.

Related: Panama Papers: Massive leak alleges PM Nawaz, sons and daughter among world leaders who use tax havens to hide their wealth

But things aren’t so bad for Parvez Rashid, you see, there was a leak within the leak. I think Leakception is the word used in academic circles.

According to ICIJ, the documents were leaked to them via an anonymous source almost a year ago. Since then they partnered with over 400 journalists in over 80 countries to get information out of raw data. ICIJ’s partner in Pakistan was CIRP (Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan), whose founder is Umer Cheema, who works for The News.

For the past one year, ICIJ was providing access to crucial documents to Umer Cheema and 399 others like him all over the world who were supposed to keep the project a secret. One of these 400 journalists, it seems gave a heads-up to Hussain Sharif, allowing him to come on a TV show and announce that he and his siblings are proud owners of shell companies located in offshore tax havens, all legit. Hussain Sharif preemptively told the nation that Sharifs are a pious family and they use offshore shell companies for pious purposes weeks before the actual leaks. Parvez Rasheed was quick to point this out today, so he has that going for him which is nice.

He was the only spokesperson out of all the members from the list to be able to claim that “these are the legitimate businesses we spoke about on TV a week ago, see, we are clean.”

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister of Iceland was not able to do that, maybe he was not so resourceful and this leak caught him completely off-guard in front of cameras. Who is underdeveloped now Mr Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson?

Or maybe it was just a coincidence?

While the Panama Papers have exposed monsters and international criminals, they have also exposed the good deeds of some humanitarians. Umer Cheema in his all-encompassing article in The News writes:

“Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman of the Jang Group registered a BVI company, Marine Properties Limited, on October 22, 2001 that remained inactive and was eventually dissolved. This correspondent emailed him questions asking him the reason for setting up the BVI company, its bank account and whether it was declared or not in his tax return.

In response, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman showed the documents proving the company was set up for a joint venture to bring foreign investment to Pakistan.”

What a great man. This person has, in his infinite wisdom, stumbled upon a way to get investment into Pakistan through offshore shell companies, obviously in greater national interest. The man has showed documents that proved it to Umer Cheema. Case closed.

ICIJ made the right decision to entrust CIRP with these documents in Pakistan.

There are other interesting things to learn here.

Documents show that Hussain Sharif and Benazir Bhutto were fired by Mossack Fonseca because these individuals were politically exposed. Mossack Fonseca may be the bad guys, but even they had sense to not associate with ‘politically exposed persons’ for too long.

So either the clients fired by Mossack Fonseca packed things up and decided to repent and ask God for forgiveness, or took their business elsewhere. There is no way to tell at the moment.

Related: Exposed By Panama Papers: List of Pakistani politicians, businessmen and judges who own offshore companies

But there are others, the businessmen and industrialists and honorable judges who own offshore shell companies. In the days to come, they will all tell the nation that the true purpose of their companies, that exist only on paper, was not to protect and hide their assets, but to serve humanity. They chose obscure islands to register their charities because they did not like to show off.

Powerful and rich Pakistanis are humble like that.

There is one more surprise. There are no Americans on the list so far. This can mean one or all of the following:
1. Americans are not corrupt
2. Americans don’t know how to utilize offshore tax havens for pious and legitimate purposes.
3. Americans use better companies with better server security, not cheap companies like Mossack Fonseca that third-world leaders use.

Related: American corporations, politicians mysteriously missing from Panama Papers

You see Mossack Fonseca is just one company that provides these services. Mossack Fonseca is just one of the biggest companies in Panama. Panama is just one of the places where these companies exist. There are hundreds more such companies, with thousands of clients.

So while the so-called Panama Papers expose many things, the biggest thing we learn from them is that we don’t know much, and not only that we don’t know much, but that people who know things think we are complete morons. From those who leaked the documents to those whose names were in them, they don’t consider us intelligent human beings. They think we are blobs of flesh who pay taxes, click on things, and accept whatever we are told.

Well, are they wrong?

Waqas Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed is Editor, Digital Media, at Daily Pakistan Global. You can reach him at waqas@dailypakistan.com.pk