The Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) sluggish action over the Panama leaks investigations has so far borne no fruit. After hesitating to make a move citing confusion of its own duties and jurisdiction and waiting for the government to issue orders, FBR was the only accountability body in the country to even attempt to take on the issue. According to the FBR Chairman in a meeting with the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, it sent out 303 notices to alleged owners of offshore companies named in the Panama Leaks, asking for details of their tax returns and incomes.

It comes as no surprise though, that the response they have received is also prosaic. Only 94 of those addressed in the notices have responded, out of which 17 denied outright that they even had companies, and only 14 actually admitted to having functional offshore companies.

The few number of those admitting ownership reflects that many of those named are looking to hide something. It might be something as basic as tax evasion – evading tax is endemic to the whole country and not only those that have offshore companies – or it might be something much darker, like terror financing or money gained through illegal businesses.

And this is indicative of the real situation in the country. Nawaz Sharif’s family may or may not be corrupt, that will be determined through investigation. But this was never about only one family; the leaks were a big revelation because it was a true picture of how deep-rooted corruption is in Pakistan.

Corruption is definitely a significant problem in the country, and the integrity of the Prime Minister and other ‘big fish’ aside, there is an incalculable amount of money being transferred or earned illegally completely under the surface. Investigating the Panama leaks diligently might just lead to others that are engaged in corruption as well.

The FBR has stipulated that a Rs 25000 fine on first defaulters and Rs 50000 for the next default will be implemented. This is only the first step, and there doesn’t seem to be a clue within any governmental institutions on how to move beyond this. The government needs to get on it, not only because questions against its legitimacy are consistently being raised, but also because it has the opportunity to win itself many plaudits for leading the fight against corruption. But with the current trend, and both PML-N and PTI firmly fixated on whether the Prime Minister is guilty, the corrupt of the country can continue to enjoy their day in the sun.