Was Imran Khan Trying to Address the Plunder of Poor Countries by the Wealthy?

Manuel Pérez-Rocha wrote a piece “Ousted Pakistani Leader Was Challenging Investment Treaties That Give Corporations Excessive Power: Mexico and many other countries are facing anti-democratic corporate lawsuits like the case that pushed Khan to withdraw from international investment agreements.” He notes: “The parliament of Pakistan recently ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote. The reasons for the former cricket star’s political downfall are not entirely clear. His economic policies were a mixed bag at best, but he deserves credit for one thing: he’d taken a bold stand against international investment agreements that give transnational corporations excessive power over national governments.”

This piece led noted author and activist Maude Barlow to tweet: “Wonder if this is why he was thrown over…”

I was just looking at Khan’s statement to the UN General Assembly from last September and it’s quite remarkable:

Because of the plunder of the developing world by their corrupt ruling elites, the gap between the rich and the poor countries is increasing at an alarming speed.

Through this platform, I have been drawing the world’s attention towards the scourge of illicit financial flows from developing countries.

The Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) has calculated that a staggering 7 trillion dollars in stolen assets are parked in the financial “haven” destinations.

This organized theft and illegal transfer of assets has profound consequences for the developing nations. It depletes their already meagre resources, accentuates the levels of poverty especially when laundered money puts pressure on the currency and leads to its devaluation. At the current rate, when the FACTI Panel estimates that a trillion dollar every year is taken out of the developing world, there will be mass exodus of economic migrants towards the richer nations.

What the East India Company did to India, the crooked ruling elites are doing to developing world – plundering the wealth and transferring to western capitals and offshore tax havens.

And Mr. President, retrieving the stolen assets from the developed countries is impossible for poor nations. The rich countries have no incentives, or compulsion, to return this ill-gotten wealth, and this ill-gotten wealth belongs to the masses of the developing world. I foresee, in the not-too-distant future a time will come when the rich countries will be forced to build walls to keep out economic migrants from these poor countries.

I fear a few “wealthy islands” in the sea of poverty will also turn into a global calamity, like climate change.

The General Assembly must take steps meaningfully to address this deeply disturbing, and morally repugnant, situation. Naming and shaming the ‘haven’ destinations and developing a comprehensive legal framework to halt and reverse the illicit financial flows are most critical actions to stop this grave economic injustice.

And at a minimum, the recommendations of Secretary General’s FACTI panel should be fully implemented.

See Khan’s full remarks to the UN General Assembly [PDF] and video starting at 4:55. See related press release from FACTI.

Sam Husseini is an independent journalist. He writes at husseini.substack.com