ISLAMABAD - Feeling the heat of a looming political storm in the wake of government-opposition standoff over Panama leaks, the Federal Board of Revenue has issued notices to all those Pakistanis who were named in the Panama Papers.

Prominent among those who have been asked to explain their financial standings are Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif and sons Hussain and Hassan, besides other scions of leading political families of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"We have written letters to people involved in stashing their money abroad via offshore companies," said Dr Mohammad Iqbal, official spokesperson of the FBR. The process of writing letters was started a couple of days before, he said.

He informed The Nation that “we had asked them whether they have any offshore company aboard as reported in Panama leaks or not”. "We will further decide whether to start an investigation or not after receiving their reply in next 15 days," he said.

On a question about issuing notices to prime minister's sons and daughter, the spokesperson said, "FBR has issued notices to all of those having offshore companies as per (leaked) Panama documents".

Names of a total of 444 Pakistanis had appeared on International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) website. These persons are officers or owners of 280 offshore companies mentioned in Panama papers.

The prominent ones are Premier's children, former PM late Benazir Bhutto, her nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery, Senator Rehman Malik and Senator Osman Saifullah and his family members.

The FBR has taken this first step five months after the release of Panama Papers, though it is probably the most relevant department to investigate the source of funds used for buying offshore companies shares and whether the money was send abroad legally.

It would be interesting to see how FBR proceeds further, as its chief had earlier stated before a parliamentary committee that they cannot take any legal action against the Pakistanis named in Panama Papers leaks under the existing laws.

Another legal glitch is that under the existing laws the FBR cannot issue notices to people for making financial transactions after the passage of five years time, said an FBR official, wishing not to be named.

The FBR's action of issuing notices comes in the wake of the political storm that was triggered in the country after opposition parties protested over the inaction of authorities concerned. The political parties, especially Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf, has criticised the FBR and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for not taking action in this matter.

"Institutions like NAB, FBR and the Election Commission of Pakistan have already lost their credibility due to their efforts to protect the Sharifs," PTI Chairman Imran Khan said in a protest rally in Lahore on Saturday.