ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday ordered to trace the Panama Papers’ runaways to make the country corruption-free.

Chairing a meeting of Task Force on Civil Service Reforms here, Prime Minister Khan said his government will not tolerate corruption in any department.

Officials said the prime minister ordered to act against corrupt elements without discrimination to ensure rule of law. “In the past, only poor were held accountable. We need to change this trend,” he was quoted as saying by an official.

In 2016, Panama Papers report revealed Hussain Nawaz Sharif, Hassan Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the sons and daughter of former Prime Nawaz Sharif, set up at least four offshore companies in British Virgin Islands. These companies owned at least six upmarket properties overlooking London’s Hyde Park.

Subsequent enquiries revealed the Sharif family mortgaged four of these properties to the Deutsche Bank SA for a loan of £7 million and the Bank of Scotland part financed the purchase of two other apartments.

While the use of offshore business entities is not illegal in the jurisdictions in which they are registered, but it was suspected that some of the companies may have been used for illegal purposes, including fraud, drug trafficking, and tax evasion.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court took up a case on the revelation that Nawaz Sharif's children owned offshore companies dealing in millions of dollars in property transactions.

Nawaz Sharif was subsequently disqualified from holding public office in a landmark decision by the apex court in July 2017 and an accountability court was ordered to open references against him and his family.

Officials said more than 250 people named in the Panama Papers had availed the tax amnesty and most of the companies named in the leak had shifted to China.

The officials told Prime Minister Khan that 175 people named in the leak could not be located while information regarding 78 was incomplete for which help from agencies had been sought.

“The prime minister ordered to act and find the accused. We should not let anyone run away,” one official quoted the prime minister as saying.

Earlier, addressing the meeting of Task Force on Civil Service Reforms, Imran Khan said the government was firmly committed to undertake structural reforms in bureaucracy to make it efficient and responsive to the needs of time.

The Prime Minister regretted that bureaucracy was heavily politicized during the past ten years which resulted in its inefficiency and created a fear amongst the bureaucrats. He said bureaucracy will be depoliticized and insulated from all kinds of political pressures.

He said the existing government system cannot compete with private sector where merit determines the positions and seniority. 

Prime Minister Khan said no system can sustain or deliver if accountability and merit was missing.  “We need to restructure and reform our bureaucracy to make it pro-progress and innovative,” he added.

Imran Khan stressed there was dire need to promote professionalism in every sphere. He added: “We are committed to protect integrity and security of tenure of bureaucrats so that they could devote their energies towards translating political vision into reality.”  The premier said Pakistan has to attract best minds to serve the country.

Imran Khan said talent was abundant in the country. “Only the existing system does not allow talent to emerge,” he said. The Prime Minister said political class also needs to be trained to deal with the changing times. He stressed for checking the wastage of resources. 

Prime Minister Khan said: “We are also bringing a model local government system wherein local representatives will be fully empowered to carry out public welfare work.”