The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) mandated by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) has commenced its investigations about the ‘Panama Papers’. History’s biggest leak ever included 215,000 confidential documents revealing financial and attorney-client information about scores of outright criminals, drug smugglers, etc, current and former world leaders along with their close relatives and/or friends, linking them to tax evasion, money laundering, etc. Examining the whopping 2.6 terabytes (2600 GB) data obtained from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca forced German newspaper Süeddeustche Zeitung (SDZ) to request the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) for help. The ICIJ exhaustive global examining collaboration included nearly 80 countries comprising more than 350 journalists. Having offshore companies to avoid inheritance or other taxes in the country of investment is not really illegal unless there is tax avoidance in the country of origin and money laundering. The SC seemed to have glossed over these salient points initially for lack of forensic evidence but has made up the gap by constituting the JIT. Forming the JIT the onus is on the Sharif family to provide the linkages between money transfer, taxes paid, etc. People seem to forget that the bigger crime is giving false statements, magnified many times over if an individual is holding a public office or being related/associated with someone who does. Investigations include alleged violation of laws, by non-disclosure of means of income and assets, allegations of bribery and financial mismanagement, including kickbacks, money laundering, internal control lapses and other financial improprieties. The JIT has the option of using the latest software available in the world to uncover the complete records of those being investigated. Highly trained investigators looking for clues and evidence in the background of the accused use a range of tools, including surveillance, record checks, informants, etc, to help solve crimes. The JIT constituted by the SC can tap into a global network of resources, supported by cutting-edge intelligence and information technology for surveillance, due diligence, forensic accounting, undercover financial investigations, fraud, asset searches, etc. To quote Sparks Fly Chapter 10 of the international bestseller “The Panama Papers” by Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer (not brothers), “mentioned in despatches”, to quote “a trail leading to Nawaz Sharif, the current prime minister of Pakistan. In a critical report, the World Bank names two companies in the British Virgin Islands that Sharif is said to have used for questionable business deals: Nescoll and Nielsen. Sharif is believed to have bought luxury homes through these companies, including in London. The owner, at least until 2012, was Maryam Safdar, nee Sharif: Nawaz Sharif’s daughter. Neither the PM nor his daughter had responded to their requests for comment”. Why did the Sharifs not sue Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer for such defamatory black and white accusations? In fact the SDZ journalists have effectively silenced Maryam Nawaz by responding to her tweet labelling the “Panama Papers” as crap. The owners of the media group collaborating with ICIJ were also listed in the Panama Papers along with the Sharifs, certainly a “conflict of interest” situation. The sudden “love-fest” between the Sharifs and this particular media group who were previously daggers drawn for decades coincides with raw data sent by ICIJ. The Chanakya concept holds that when interests are common, “an enemy of an enemy is a friend”. Material deemed to be “damaging” for those named in the leaks could have been “deleted”, particularly details of offshore accounts thorough which money was transferred. The ‘cleaned’ version about Pakistan was released by ICIJ in April 2016 with wholesale omissions from data sent originally. The ICIJ off course has no way of knowing how much data was deleted. The JIT could ask the ICIJ for original data to carry out a forensic search. If data has been deleted than those guilty of it, individual (s) and/or entities must be held accountable. The pursuit of accountability is a zero-sum game; unfortunately political nuances and self-interest compromise its implementation. “Democracy” is a camouflage for the criminals using unscrupulous chartered accountants to hide their illegal money stashed abroad in banks and assets while our soldiers die for their country in the faraway reaches of Shawal mountains, FATA, Swat, etc. How do those ordering their soldiers into situations embracing “Shahadat” manage to qualm their conscience while saluting those looting the country at will to protect “democracy”? Consider the ultimate irony, Asif Ali Zardari lecturing us on the constitution! The writer is a defence and security analyst.