The startling revelations of Panama Leaks have instigated an unprecedented storm across the global political landscape. And the public as well as moral pressure created by these leaks is likely to have lasting consequences for several international political and business leaders – not the least of whom is the (now former) Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.

Thankfully, in Pakistan, we are made of thicker skins. Panama Leaks is exciting news, no doubt; but that is as much as it can be credited with in the twisted morality of our political fibre. No heads are expected to roll. The opposition leaders will jump up and down a few times, maybe a dharna will come out of it, and a compromised commission that orchestrates its proceedings across partisan loyalties, opposed to the constitutional mandate. And that is it. Then there will be some new scandal to chase down in the news.

But, in fidelity to this disingenuous national culture, let us, for at least this moment, play the game of acting concerned – let us assume that there are things such as moral responsibility and unfettered accountability. Let us assume that the empire of our laws and the project of justice will bring to book even the most powerful and influential amongst us. Let us also pretend, for posturing if nothing else, that each one of us is truly enraged at discovering that all of the children of our esteemed Prime Minister (among many others) have parked their obscene quantities of money in off-shore hidden instruments, so as to (legally) avoid paying taxes. Let us feign anger and resentment at the fact that the very political rulers who advocate bringing people within the national tax net, are stacking off their personal fortunes in foreign jurisdictions, far beyond the meagre reaches of our national boundaries and its law. And then, let us also pretend that our being enraged makes a difference.

In the spirit of this pretense, let us start by discussing what is ‘off-shore’ tax vehicle, and how these work. From a purely juristic perspective, an off-shore tax vehicle is a legal entity that offers international banking and financial services, which promise privacy of deposits and earnings, and offer a discounted (or free) tax regime for foreign investors. Why would such ‘privacy’ be required is a circumstantial question. However, in essence, anyone (of a certain minimum net worth) who lives in a jurisdiction that taxes income and wealth, may take his or her money and park it in off-shore tax havens, thus avoiding the payment of any tax liability in regards to the same.

Is this legal? Yes it is. The domestic regime of off-shore tax havens (e.g. Panama) allow foreign investors to lawfully park their money, without payment of taxes. And to this extent (only), the claims by Mr. Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, that their money has been invested in off-shore vehicles ‘legally’, is perhaps correct.

But the lawfulness of the off-shore entity itself is not the issue. The more interesting question is how such money was generated? From where was it earned? And did it find its way to the off-shore tax haven through the legally recognised banking instruments?

And these – for a family who’s leader pays no more than a few thousand Rupees in national tax – is extremely difficult questions to answer.

And, of course, there is also that small inconvenience of explaining why the governmental machinery of PML-N – including Federal, Provincial Ministers, and one Daniyal Aziz – are expending their public positions to launch a defence for such political princes who claim to not even be tax-payers in Pakistan.

Anyway, to investigate the questions concerning lawfulness of the money parked in off-shore vehicles, the Prime Minister publicly announced constitution of a “Judicial Commission”, to be headed by a retired Judge (of the Prime Minister’s choosing). Soon, the faux pas became apparent: a judicial commission can neither be constituted by the Prime Minister, nor include anyone other an serving judge(s) of the court (under judicial oath). For a Judicial Commission , the Prime Minister can only make a “request” to the Chief Justice, and it is the Chief Justice (an not the Prime Minister) who determines which judge(s) are to be a part of such commission. A commission headed by a retired judge is an ‘inquiry commission’ at best.

Semantics aside, a discussion has erupted across our political landscape as to who should head the inquiry commission, which agencies and organisations should be asked to assist the said commission, and what specific responsibility must the commission have. And this is the juncture where our feigned outrage at the discovery of Panama Leaks comes in handy. In the absence of a Supreme Court led commission, each of us can form our own opinion, and oppose any name presented by those who we dislike. Because, truth be told, since the commission is not a “Judicial Commission”, there is no one person (or a group of individuals) whose integrity, honesty, and rigour will be accepted with consensus across the political divide.

Already, controversial (if not ridiculous) suggestions have started to pour forth. Perhaps most notably by Mr. Imran Khan himself.

Khan Sb., possessed by whatever he gets possessed by from time to time, has put forth the name of Dr. Shoaib Suddle to be his recommendation for heading the inquiry commission. Perhaps forgetting the fact that – notwithstanding Dr. Suddle’s professional career as a police officer – he has had the most shifting political alliances of any bureaucrat in our recent past. It is a matter of public record that Dr. Suddle, who had served as General Musharraf’s IG Balochistan, was later the most blue-eyed police officer for the then President Asif Zardari, when he came to power in 2008. Over time, however, that changed, and Dr. Suddle became Chaudhary Court’s choice of one-man inquiry commission to investigate the infamous Arsalan Iftikhar case. The same Chaudhary Court, which seemed politically aligned with Nawaz Sharif and his PML-N. In the said inquiry, Dr. Suddle not only exonerated the Iftikhar Chaudhary from any knowledge of what his son was doing (while living in Iftikhar Chaudhary’s house), but also refrained from giving any findings against the prodigal son who had gone from rags to riches during the tenure of Iftikhar Chaudhary’s Chief Justice-ship.

And now, as our twisted national fate would have it, he is PTI’s choice for investigating the Prime Minister’s sons (along with other individuals) implicated in Panama Leaks.

Maybe this is just the partisan hackery works. Maybe politics is just another name for posturing, so long as there is no risk of actual accountability. We can all continue to play this game for as long as like. But let us not try to convince each other that it is anything other than a game. The Sharif’s money is parked in Panama, away from the reach our national laws, or even the national will. And that is where it will stay. Just the way Nawaz Sharif will stay in Prime Minister house, for now, and his brother will stay in the Chief Minister Punjab house, and sixteen of his other relatives will continue to stay in their respective political positions of comforts.

Ludwig Wittgenstein once famously said, “The hardest thing to do in life is not to fool yourself.” In this spirit, even as we raise hue and cry at the Panama Leaks, let us not fool ourselves to believe that our cries are anything more than noise. Noise, which is (eventually) ignorable.