Getting away with white collar crimes is not easy anymore

Let Justice Prevail

It is obvious that the government is doing its best to steer its sinking boat ashore during a raging tempest. The arrest of Zafar Hijazi the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan on Friday is a clear sign that the government seems to be in troubled waters. Hijazi had been accused by the JIT on tampering with the records of Sharif’s sugar mills.  FIA after launching an investigation into the allegations has endorsed JIT’s assertion. In the view of some political observers the comparison made between the Sharif family and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on the issue of money trail seems baseless. As stated in Dawn News Khan said that Sharif is accused of money laundering whereas khan had brought money into the country which is not a crime. Sharif’s case has weekend considerably and now many political observers are suggesting that in the coming days the Prime Minister might have to face disqualification from office.

It is generally believed that detecting and prosecuting white collar crimes is next to impossible but it seems that this fallacy would prove invalid in the coming days. White collar crimes include fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering it also includes long and short term public policies to safeguard unhindered private profits etc. As stated in “Courting the Law” white collar crimes are committed by public office holders and other influential people such as “directors of public and private sector corporations.”  According to renowned journalist Zahid Hussain the result of this historic judicial action will change the political dynamics of the country.  A comprehensive probe by the JIT team into the complicated financial dealings with plenty of evidence against a sitting Prime Minister appears to be an unprecedented judicial action. The progress made in the Panama case so far has definitely helped the general public to regain their lost confidence in the judicial system. Impeachments and forced resignations of public officer holders owing to corruption charges is not something that the world has never witnessed. However in Pakistan the rich get immunity from law therefore it seems unrealistic that powerful elite accused of white crimes could be punished. A report in “The Express Tribune” last year revealed that laws in Pakistan have “facilitated money laundering and tax evasion in a legal manner.” Therefore it has always been extremely difficult to take any tangible action against the preparatory. There is no account of the money transferred abroad through the foreign currency accounts operating and being “protected under the Protection of Economic reforms Act 1992.” With the enactment of this law many politicians and industrialists were successful in justifying their illegal wealth. Likewise the Section 111 (4) of the income tax law enables “whitening of illegal money through foreign remittances.”

As time draws us near to the reserved decision of the Supreme Court on Panama case some analysts suggest that it is a beginning of a new Pakistan. While others imply that this judicial action might bring an end to Sharif’s political career. Many political observers during this judicial episode have been advising the Prime Minister to step aside. However the PM has time and again declared his decision of fighting till the end.  Many political observers are of the view that this judicial action is the beginning of reforming the system. The progress made in Panama so far indicates Imran Khan’s resilience and perseverance as a politician. However there are observers like Talat Hussain who suggest that this judicial episode is merely a fight between Imran khan and Nawaz Sharif. In Husain’s view had Imran Khan been fighting for good governance he would have never stood with Asif Ali Zardari who is without a clean record. There is no denying the fact that Sharif’s case is rather weak and a lot of evidence has been provided against him. Panama case is surely setting precedent in history that white collar crimes are punishable in Pakistan. It is believed that punishing white collar criminals at highest level will set the tradition of accountability of the elite.  One can desire that justice prevails in the state and whoever breaks the law is held accountable.



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