With the issue in your hand, we celebrate the first anniversary of Narratives, nursed and nurtured with the blood, sweat and money of working journalists. With the launch of Narratives as an independent journalistic endeavour, we were committed to presenting Pakistan’s case and its unfiltered story. The challenges we faced in twelve months have strengthened our commitment.
We have broadened the public debate in many spheres with a local, nationalist and progressive perspective. We have just scratched the surface.
The enormous leak of information on the super-rich’s illegal financial practices, known as the Pandora Papers, will continue to provide discoveries for weeks, if not months.
Fourteen distinct offshore wealth service companies in Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong, and wealth managers in well-known tax havens such as Belize, Seychelles, Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands provided the Pandora leaks with their private data. Incorporating businesses, forming trusts, and establishing other entities in low- or no-tax countries are all services these firms provide.
Stay tuned over the next several weeks to discover more about the 130 global millionaires who control entities in these tax havens.
As a significant tax haven and worldwide destination for illegal money, the United States has been huge news recently for the rest of the globe. Many people believe that most of these financial games are played ‘offshore’ in tax havens and secretive jurisdictions with lax banking regulations in tiny nations.
However, when it comes to privacy laws, states like Delaware, South Dakota and the British Virgin Islands are right there with them. According to the Pandora reports, there were 81 active trusts in South Dakota, holding at least $367 billion in assets. Other states with active ‘Trusts’ included Florida, Delaware, Texas, and Nevada (14). Trusts seem to be primarily serving clients from outside the United States of America.
The Pandora Papers will hopefully increase pressure on politicians who continue to hide their riches, both here and overseas. Over 330 politicians and global leaders from 91 nations are reported to be involved in these transactions. There are now four times as many people involved as there were in the 2016 Panama Papers scandal.
Transparency campaigners in the United States are ramping up their efforts to maintain pressure on the country’s legislators. Fixing this problem will require the US to eliminate its own tax havens. Some types of trust and loopholes that serve no commercial purpose other than tax evasion should be banned.
The Pandora Papers also expose a long list of Pakistani politicians, ex-military officers, business and media tycoons. Impunity becomes the bedrock of corrupt regimes if robust monitoring mechanisms are not put into place. All attempts to eliminate corruption will prove futile if the culture of impunity remains untouched.
Narratives is here to address the need for a greater capacity to develop ideas, nurture creative public intellectuals and other leaders, make critical concepts accessible to everyone, challenge and highlight misguided policies, false conflicts, and political timidity. We will continue to hold the powerful to account. The free press must expose hypocrisy, financial and intellectual corruption, wrongdoing and the abuse of power. But it is an uphill task. With strong political allegiances and financial motivations, just a handful of billionaires now own most of the Pakistani media. We, at Narratives, are independent, and we need your support to survive.
Politicians, conglomerates, climate change deniers, corporations and foreign stakeholders use fake news, propaganda and disinformation to sow confusion, dilute facts, create divisions, and pursue agendas. But we are here to state facts as they are and analyse and debate issues relevant to Pakistan. But we cannot do it alone. We need your support to keep the lights on.
It’s essential to instil a culture of integrity, openness, and fair play. We must instil these principles in children from an early age. We look forward to your continued support!