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Anti-corruption campaigns still rudderless

Anti-corruption campaigns still rudderless

ISLAMABAD: Comments that an anti-corruption campaign cannot succeed in dislodging a government are frequent in newspaper columns and during television talk shows these days.

The argument is that crowds are not interested in such a campaign.

You never know.

But one thing is clear: campaigners out to force the government to concede on faster investigations into the Panama Paper findings fail to hit the nail on the head.

Asking for a Sharif family-specific finding commission might be a frivolous demand. An investigation to determine who stole how much from the national coffers might be asking too much as such an investigation would be infinite and an exercise in futility.

The government and the opposition, however, can converge on one point of consensus without much of trouble though, if they agree on a commission to determine tax evasion and asset-under-declaration or mis-declaration by politicians.

Such would be an exercise that might help in further determining who had extraordinary amounts of money and assets of high value in the past and in the present and where did they stash it out.

It is not difficult a process to initiate to determine who made how much money by legal or illegal means and could indulge in capital flight that was meant to create offshore companies.

Offshore companies can be created either by legal means or by use of illegal assets and transactions. The first step in determining if a person actually holds offshore company is acquiring a document fit for litigation indicating that he or she is owner or beneficiary of such a company.

The second step for an investigating omission would be determining such a person had declared assets and transactions to create or be co-owner of an offshore company.

Only when these two steps are taken would such a commission be able to list the name of persons that are documented for owning or co-owning a company abroad and is not documented as declaring the money inland.

If he or she did not declare that money inland, and has the ownership or co-ownership of such a company, a case can be registered to determine if such a person actually made money by illegal means; evaded taxes and indulged in the flight of capital through undeclared transactions.

If the campaign against corruption is to find a direction it should be toward a consensus in the first place for investigation if the accused persons or members of their families did evade taxes and indulged in illegal transactions.

Campaigners against corruption would be serious in their effort only if they demand an official investigation into the ownership or co-ownership of an offshore company, into the undeclared assets and holdings, into the tax evasion by the accused, and lastly, into the illegal transactions which were instrumental in creating an offshore company (or companies).

Neither the government nor the opposition comes to this point.

They do not spell out that these four steps are vital in any serious investigation for determining who stole from the national coffers and created or availed the co-ownership of the offshore companies.

Why do they stay quiet on these prerequisites?

That is one question that comes to mind when the din rises in demand for investigation without sane proposals for probe into the assets of the accused.

Moreover, if the opposition is not seriously seek a meaningful exercise of investigation, why does it raise hell so persistently?

Is it all pressure politics?

If it is, it might leave Pakistan neither with hope nor with a democratic optimism.

Does that mean every good opportunity of fighting corruption and cleansing democratic functions is being lost to the tendency for chaos?

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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