Premier Nawaz Sharif’s defence of himself and his family, in case of Panama leaks was a treat. His calm, confident and non-provocative way rendered the opposition perplexed. They did not know what to say. Walk out from the august house (the National Assembly) seemed pre-planned, even if it was not so the opposition had no other option and way. They were sure confused and in dismay.

It is a painful fact that members of the National Assembly who are supposed to represent the electorate faithfully and serve the national interest have failed to do so. The self-seekers have unfortunately wasted time and resources of the people since they don’t have the intention, ability and capacity to make contribution as law makers. They are unfortunately the law breakers, not realizing the damage they have done to the state of Pakistan and the poor masses of this country. The in-fighting and dirty politics gives the enemy an opportunity to exploit our weaknesses and show us down.

It has been wisely suggested for the opposition to agree on the TORs for the Judicial Commission. There is no use in points scoring. The effort should be directed to tackling the real issues. The rule of law should be supreme. Law should treat citizens equally. Discrimination elimination will bring democracy and merit to victory stand.

The major focus of our policies has to be on national security and socio-economic development as well as efforts to bring all deviants back on the right track, and bring criminals to justice.

Panama leaks unveil offshore holdings of politicians and officials, including current and former heads of states, monarchs, Prime Ministers, businessmen. Some of those who move around and hide money in these places belong to companies blacklisted by the United States for allegedly doing business with terrorists and drug barons. Huge amounts are stated to be involved and big names of influential personalities as well. Reportedly most tax havens are territories belonging to rich countries including, United Kingdom and the United States. Less developed and developing countries such as Panama survive on low taxes and soft laws on disclosure as a way of making money.

Analysts are of the view that Panama leaks did the world a big service. Political voices that we hear in context of tackling tax avoidance in Pakistan need to consider a systematic scientific approach. The focus should be on issues rather than personalities. Investigations are needed by independent neutral authority that not only provides an indepth understanding of the problem but also the short and long range strategies to resolve the issues having political, social and economic implications.

Anti tax-avoidance measures have to be evolved and ways and means have to be devised to encourage Pakistanis to fund in Pakistan. This means that the governments have to look into the structure of taxation and why do people avoid taxes? Are there too many taxes and too high rates?

Tax payers have the right to ask where and why and how is public money spent? Coercive methods of tax regimes undervalue the power of the people when they unite for a cause which is much above personal interests. Taxation and corruption are in a circular relationship. The vicious circle has to be broken and torn.

Are there ineffective controls? Are there too many barriers and too many audits? If taxes are reduced and rationalized and more and more people are brought in the tax net no genuine investor will take the risk of taking money to offshore companies, and invite trouble in addition to sacrificing personal honour.

As stated, crime and corruption go together, where the extent of corruption in government departments and semi-autonomous bodies is perhaps not to the knowledge of every citizen. Only those who come in contact with government officials or personnel dealing with public know where the shoe pinches. This suggests that the issue raised by Panama leaks is not so simple. It involves the society and economy in its entirety. It is a ‘complex whole’ that has to be studied and researched in all its dimensions and levels for a satisfactory solution and strengthening the social and moral fabric of the society.

Holistic approach to the problem in view is likely to eliminate vested interests, those who are barrier in the way of improving the level of living of the people. They are weaponising education and literacy. Job creation can end poverty. But punitive tax hampers job creation. Business unfriendly tax regimes are responsible for poverty, and exodus of people and their increasing insecuity and poverty.

There are no laws to apply in the situation of Panama Leaks. New legislation would be required to tackle the emerging political noises as well as real issues. It would be impractical to probe the leaks as there exist no law that can cater to the new dimensions of corruption. As it is, many analysts are of the view that nothing will come out of Panama Leaks.

The opposition benches should have stayed in parliament to raise some pertinent points for the treasury benches rather than walking out of Assembly Chambers and turning to media outside. That did not and could not help to sort out the issue. The opposition leaders need to focus on real issues about responsibility and accountability. Joint effort of the government and the opposition is needed to devise acceptable terms of reference (TORs) for the proposed Judicial Commission.