LAHORE - It is shameful for the Pakistani system and the people at the helm of the affairs that an accused never bothers to face the law of the land back at home once he or she is freed to leave the country.

We learn from the past that a number of accused who were either directly linked with the class of politicians or they did the criminal acts as their front men or a political party, when booked under the law, were restrained through the court order or the investigating agency from leaving  the country. Yet there is a class of the accused who managed to go abroad through the porous border with Afghanistan or any other means. It has also been seen that the accused in these cases of heinous nature were influential people, mostly moored in political or defence service background. The names of such accused persons were put on the Exit Control List (ECL) by the Ministry of Interior.

After they leave the country, the court continues to summon them even through warrants of arrest, but they never look back until and unless they get a message from their masters at home that the way is clear to return and no one is there to touch them.

As to the politicians, in most of the cases of their health state, which breaks down only after custody for the investigation purpose, becomes the plea for bail and travel abroad since no inland hospital exists which could cure them. A weak prosecution, purposely carried out in most of such cases, greatly helps the accused to get relief.

Under the law of the land, criminal proceedings cannot move on unless the accused is present before the court. As such courts make maximum efforts to ensure presence of the accused person for which they issue arrest warrants, bailable and non-bailable, but such the persons required to show up are not in the country. The court has the power to ensure their appearance through arrest by the Interpol, but that option is hardly exercised.

The accused get the relief of travelling abroad for holding political and financial significance. The logical conclusion of these cases can give new direction to the overall system and curb corruption in the country. But the fate of most of such cases still hangs in the balance leaving a big question mark on all state organs.

Over the last 10 years, three cases well set the precedent how high-profile cases get stuck at various stages as the persons involved therein are not ready to come back. They are related to former Ambassador of Pakistan to America Hussain Haqqani in Memogate scandal, former President- Pervez Musharraf and Ayyan Ali, a model who is commonly known as dollar queen. They all flew abroad after their names were excluded from the Exit Control List under order of the court while criminal cases against them were pending.

There are others like main leaders of PPP, Dr Asim Hussain and Sharjeel Memon. They are seeking their names lifted from the ECL. One of them has served the federal cabinet while the othe has remained the Sindh minister. Both are facing corruption charges.

Hussain Haqqani and Pervez Musharraf are facing high-treason charges while Ayan was caught red handed while illegally trying to take over five lakh dollars out of the country through a Dubai-bound flight from Islamabad airport in March 2015. Haqqani was called by the Supreme Court on January 4, 2013, to appear within four weeks. He did not come on the plea of threats to his life since the PML-N which had filed petition against him was in power.

After Osama bin Laden’s killing in the US operation in Abbotabad on May 2, 2011, Haqqani was reported through an article published in Financial Times to have drafted a memo on behalf of the then President Asif Ali Zardari to US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen for coming to rescue the PPP government which it alleged was at threat at the hands of the army under General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Haqqani who was called to the country denied to have written any memo. Interestingly, the PML-N did not pursue the Memogate after coming to the power although it was highly charged up during the PPP rule to the take the matter to its logical end.

As regards high-treason case against Pervez Musharraf, it emanated from his November 3, 2007, PCO, under which the superior court judges were required to take fresh oath. But the judges who resisted his step and refused to take fresh oath under the PCO were arrested. Earlier, the military dictator was booked in Benazir Bhutto murder case. The PML-N government, at the beginning, sounded very determined to set a new example by taking a high-treason matter against a military dictator to its logical end. But Pervez Musharraf went abroad on medical grounds. Although her is facing non-bailable warrants of arrest by the court for appearance, but nobody knows when it will actually happen.

The third high-profile case is against Ayyan Ali who is facing money laundering case. Names of many political bigwigs have been attributed to it and she is being repeatedly called by Special Customs Court, Rawalpindi, through arrest warrants. The next date of hearing is June 21, but nobody knows for sure when she would come back. There is lukewarm interest on the part of the prosecution to contest the case. The stalled cases may be victory of some persons, but, it is a question mark on our system.