Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Dr Azra Fazal Pechuhu moved the Panama Papers Inquiries Bill in the National Assembly (NA) that seeks the formation of a commission to look into the disclosures that were a part of the Panama case. Passing such an act would have meant that there would have been a proper legal process for all those people whose names have been disclosed in the Panama papers for the transnational deposits and transfers of a large sum of Pakistani rupees. Checking for irregularities and finding out whether any of the money stashed abroad has been earned illegally is important in the fight against corruption.

It would have allowed the state to keep a check on such actions and trace all such records if and when necessary. However, the bill failed to pass in the NA and the ruling party has labelled the act as redundant because according to them all matters of the case have been resolved. At the same time, they did not refrain from labelling the act as a propaganda against the Prime Minister. How an act designed to create greater accountability in the country is somehow targeted against the Prime Minister is anyone’s guess – the ruling party should prioritise the greater good over self-preservation.

It seems that PML-N has forgotten the Panama verdict and the formation of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT); which meant that matters need to be checked and confirmed so that the guilty can be punished. The issue itself is not redundant at all when there is massive amount of money that goes unregulated, and it is not a petty issue when the opposition highlights that citizens of Pakistan suffer as international debt keeps on increasing. If the ruling party is not guilty, it should be the first to support such acts.

It was important to investigate other persons that were named in the Panama Papers. The inquiry should not stop with the court’s verdict. If someone is accused of indulging in illegal acts, the state must act against them and hold them responsible instead of accommodating them.

A ruling against anyone guilty would set the precedent for not committing money laundry or earning wealth through spurious means and also as a means to increase accountability when confronted with such a situation.