Former Tunisian President Ben Ali has written a letter to Swiss banks advising them to release his assets to the Tunisian government. Although the exact amount he pilfered is not known, it is widely believed that it runs into millions of dollars. During the 23 years of his rule, which came to an end last year as a result of Arab Spring, he milked the country’s resources and hoarded his riches in Swiss banks. Selecting these banks indicated a similarity in the modus operandi to that of the political and bureaucratic ruling classes in Pakistan and elsewhere who indulge in corruption.

Ben Ali has set an example for our own government that is unwilling to write to the Swiss authorities for the recovery of looted wealth and consequently has pushed the country towards a harmful confrontation with the judiciary. It is highly unfortunate that the entire democratic process should be jeopardised merely to save a single individual. One would also expect the government to pursue other cases of ill gotten wealth, which should straightaway go to the government kitty. Besides, industrialists and businessmen who have deposited their hard-earned money abroad should be persuaded to bring it back to the country. That would help revive the economy in the shortest possible time.