What the general public suspected all along has been proven beyond questionable doubt, as a consortium of news organisations released documents of a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonesca. Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto along with Rehman Malik, Russian President Putin and David Cameron’s father are only some of the many high-profile names that have offshore companies doing their dirty work for them. In the best of circumstances, most of these people are at least guilty of lying to the public they represent, and at worst, some of them are engaged in crimes such as tax evasion, bribery and manipulating markets.

Political leaders and rich businessmen across the world are using the “I did nothing illegal” defence, and while most of them might be telling the truth, they are guilty of skirting around the issue. Rehman Malik on the other hand, has attempted an entirely different tactic, and blames RAW for this latest conspiracy against him. Using this as an excuse is akin to accepting all blame, for while Malik might be a sitting senator, his downfall would not benefit India or its spy agency in any way. Tax evasion and tax avoidance are two very different things, but that does not make the latter any better in terms of what is right or wrong. This issue is not a legal one, but a moral one. Just because something is legal does not mean it is right. In fact, considering that many of these laws were created by the people implicated through the Panama leaks, the powerful still have many loopholes to ensure that the status quo remains in place, and money can be hoarded with complete impunity.

Even if we give the Sharif’s the benefit of doubt, innocent reasons for investing through a shell company to do not fit the bill. Owning a shell company is not illegal, and can prove to be extremely useful if a firm is looking to protect trade secrets following a ground-breaking discovery, or to keep one’s brand strong by buying a shell company to avoid public ire in case of buying from a dubious supplier. Other uses for a shell company however, are not as innocent, and can range from tax evasion to financing terror. This is not to accuse the ruling party of being involved in the latter, but at the same time, dismissing the allegations, as Pervaiz Rashid has, is of no meaning. Simply put, owning an offshore company means that one’s money and where it goes can be hidden. Hiding one’s assets and keeping the public in the dark is not acceptable for a representative of the people and is disrespectable to the public office that they hold.