ICIJ will release 19 million documents today
The names of several Pakistanis are said to be on the Pandora Papers that a consortium of investigative journalists is going to release Sunday.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) announced on Saturday that it was going to release its “most expansive exposé of financial secrecy yet”.
ICIJ members had worked on 2016 Panama Papers that shook capitals across the globe and led to the downfall of governments, including that of Nawaz Sharif.
The PandoraPapers would be released at 9:30pm on Sunday Pakistan standard time, according to an ICIJ tweet.
The expose “features reporting from more than 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries across the globe,” the ICIJ tweet said.
Journalist Umar Cheema, who is one of the 600 journalists, told Geo TV that several Pakistani names were in the Pandora Papers.
“Pakistani people whose name are on [Pandora Papers] number more than [those whose names were on] the Panama Papers,” he said.
“The names are kind of interesting, but you will have to wait for another 24 hours.”
Cheema suggested that the ICIJ journalists had worked on the Pandora Papers for two years. “We waited for two years,” he said.
With 11.9 million documents, Pandora Papers are bigger than the Panama Papers, which were a leak of 11.5 million confidential documents. The Pandora Papers also have international significance. German journalist Benedikt Strunz has said, “something huge is coming up!”
Meanwhile, rumour mills have started working overtime in Pakistan with some Twitter users claiming offshore companies linked with a key person have been revealed. However, sources say the claims were just a repeat of old allegations and had little to do with Pandora Papers.
Where did the word Pandora come from?
The word ‘Pandora’ is said to have originated from an ancient Greek story. Myths from the Greek civilization and culture have given the word a unique status.
According to historians, Pandora was the first mortal woman who was formed out of clay by the Greek gods. The creation of Pandora was often depicted in ancient Greek vase paintings. She appears as either a statue-like figure surrounded by gods or as a woman rising out of the earth.
The myth continues that Pandora had a jar containing all manner of misery and evil. She made the mistake of opening it after which the evils flew out over the earth. In another version of the story, it is said that the jar contained blessings, which would have been preserved for the human race had it not been for curiosity.
The jar turned into a box in the 16th Century when Renaissance humanist Erasmus mistranslated Greek.
The Panama Papers
In 2016, the ICIJ revealed 11.5 million secret documents to the public for the very first time. The documents, released by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, contained confidential attorney-client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities. It led to the resignations of multiple political leaders including the prime minister of Iceland.
Of these, eight offshore companies were reported to have links with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and brother Shehbaz Sharif
Nawaz’s children Maryam, Hassan, and Hussain “were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies”.
Two days after the revelations, Nawaz, the then prime minister, announced to set up a judicial probe to investigate the money trail of offshore firms owned by his family. He said he will resign and go home if proven guilty by the Panama Papers probe.
Consequently, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Jamhoori Watan Party, Jamaat-i-Islami, and others filed a petition in the Supreme Court to begin proceedings on the Panama case after protests by the opposition parties.
In 2017, the top court announces a 3-2 split in favour of Nawaz Sharif and set up a JIT to investigate the money trail of the properties owned by the ruling family.
Few weeks before the 2018 General Elections, the PML-N founder was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $10.6 million on corruption charges. NAB also convicted Sharif’s daughter Maryam to a seven-year prison term and his son-in-law Muhammad Safdar to one-year imprisonment.
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