In another calculated move of circumlocution and drawn-out technicalities, the LHC and the federal cabinet have derailed the progress hitherto made by the imperiously effectual AMLA 2010 legislation, exposing the country to a myriad of liabilities in the upcoming FATF review.

Under FATF scrutiny, the government is up for review for steps actively taken for combating money laundering and terror financing, a stipulation that has been invalidated by this regressive delay. While notifying an empowered authority to carry out prosecution under AMLA 2010 is one of the recommendations formulated by the Asia Pacific Group to certify Pakistan’s agenda against money laundering and terror financing, curtailing the powers of the DG I&I, and delaying a decision on its authority is a deliberately counteractive step.

What the delay entails is not only a relapse on the headway made in tackling money laundering, setting up the country to be blacklisted under the FATF review, it also further derails the government’s tax amnesty scheme, allowing tax evaders that have accumulated their wealth through money-laundering/criminal activity, to make surreptitious use of the amnesty without being checked. Where organizations like the DG I&I need to be empowered for the effective curtailment of offences like money laundering and tax evasion, it is disheartening to see that institutions like the LHC, in tandem with the filibustering of the federal cabinet are withholding discretionary powers from such authorities. The adjournment consequently suspends judgments for the fate of more than 270 influential people accused of laundering tax-evaded money, further delaying justice and accountability.

Where the provisions of AMLA 2010 have significantly increased the powers of the tax authorities allowing for a more equitable and reprimanding tax collection system (allowing the confiscation of property as well as the lodging of FIR against any individual refusing to pay due tax) it is unfortunate that the impediment to such curative initiatives are posed by delaying tactics of the state institutions themselves.

Where the procedural delay of more than four months will have adverse impact on Pakistan’s case during the upcoming review by FATF, opening up the country to ostracization and further antagonism in the global playground, it also highlights the role of our government and judicial system which has lately employed a pick-and-choose attitude towards dealing with crucial issues. Where matters imperative to the welfare of the country are deferred and mismanaged, trifling issues and political melodrama keeps becoming the focal point. Its stands t be seen what matters more to the public when it comes for the time to cast a vote.