The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has failed to contain the scourge of money laundering. The legal and the administrative framework is inadequate to convict the launderers. Financial corruption continues unabated. FATF has repeatedly pointed out the need for convicting the corrupt. In order to mitigate the sufferings of the masses, an appeal is being made to untouchable criminals to give the nation a break. As the famous saying goes, “What cannot be cured must be endured”; money laundering cannot continue as our endurance limit has run out with the fear of total collapse of the entire financial edifice. The mantra of ‘Catch me if you can’ or ‘Convict me if you can’ cannot go on as the bleeding continues.

Conviction in financial crimes is almost negligible as common law is not geared for such legal infringements. Western democracies have never experienced the menace of money laundering as they were never at the losing end. In fact, most stolen money is transferred there from developing countries as such no such laws were enacted to stop this scrouge. Now our legal minds have to join hands to create agencies geared to combat such serious shortcomings.

It is widely believed that laundered money eventually leads to the support of terrorism which is now being closely monitored. Two Pakistani banks have been fined for violation of regulatory frameworks put in place by international financial institutions. There is a close scrutiny of transactions carried out by the local banks yet the laundering continues unabated which may eventually cause the collapse of the banking system. Agha Hassan Abidi’s bank (BCCI) fell into the same trap. Handling of black money carries serious consequences which a developing country like Pakistan can ill-afford.

There was a time when foreign exchange transactions were strictly controlled. Liberalisation has not helped. The developed world has benefitted from cash inflows from the economically struggling nations. Globalisation has resulted in the skewed distribution of wealth. The divide between the haves and have nots has widened. Major structural changes are needed for amicable distribution of wealth and resources both within and amongst nations. A truth and reconciliation commission may be needed to condone the sins of the past provided the players decide to hang their gloves and go home amicably with an undertaking to never indulge in such unholy practices that threaten the very existence of the republic.

The impoverished people of Pakistan have suffered enough at the hands of plunder and then transfer of their meagre resources through illegal means. To save the country from total financial meltdown, an immediate ceasefire of the financial hostilities is the need of the hour. For the sake of the survival of the republic, my appeal should be considered seriously. Please stop money laundering.