ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Monday Prime Minister Imran Khan had set up a high-level cell to investigate Pakistanis named in the Pandora Papers, a massive leak of financial documents allegedly tying world leaders, including Pakistanis, to secret stores of wealth.
Major news organizations the world over published the Pandora Papers on Sunday. Among those named in the papers are more than 700 Pakistanis, including several members of Khan’s cabinet, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a Washington-based network of reporters and media organizations that published the investigation.
The documents do not implicate Khan himself.
“The Prime Minister of Pakistan has set up a high-level cell under the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission to investigate the Pandora’s Leaks,” Hussain said on Twitter.
In another tweet he said it was “unfortunate” that the names of owners of all major Pakistani media houses had been mentioned in the Pandora Papers, with many accused of money laundering.
“The information ministry is initiating transparent investigations in this regard and PEMRA [Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority] is being directed to seek explanation.”
Among media owners named in the papers are Jang Group editor-in-chief Mir Shakilur Rehman, Dawn CEO Hameed Haroon and Express Media Group CEO Sultan Ali Lakhani.
Hussain’s comments came hours after Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed downplayed the leak of financial documents, saying the scandal had “fizzled out” since Khan announced an investigation into the allegations.
“Pandora box [sic] has fizzled out. What is this, much ado about nothing?” Ahmed said at a weekly pressing briefing in Islamabad, adding that there was nothing new in the documents and the names mentioned “were already circulating.”
Khan has said his government would investigate all of those mentioned in the leaked documents.
“If any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action,” he said on Twitter on Sunday.
When asked if the matter would be referred to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for investigation, the interior minister said it was the prerogative of the prime minister and Khan had already said all 700 people named would be investigated.
“Good enough,” he quipped.
The Pandora Papers are the latest in a series of mass ICIJ leaks of financial documents, from LuxLeaks in 2014, to the 2016 Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers in 2017 and FinCen files in 2020.
One of Khan’s predecessors, three time PM Nawaz Sharif, was ousted by the country’s Supreme Court in 2017 over allegations made in the Panama Papers. He currently lives in exile in London.