Tax evasion is a crime in Pakistan – unless you are a disproportionately powerful figure of authority with the means to brush off monetary payment. The Federal Bureau of Revenue is usually least bothered about the big guns such as parliamentarians and other politicians as well as departments so when it drops down to collecting payment from the aforementioned, action is delayed and justice is elusive. Implementation of tax laws is insufficient – which is obvious considering the FBR mode with which little to no information is efficiently collected on the income and assets of elite MNAs and tycoons. So, tax evasion is forgiven – unless you are a small elementary school. Ironically, that is when the Excise and Taxation Department’s righteousness struck a school in Rawalpindi on Wednesday.

Claiming that the owner of the school failed to pay Rs 30,000 and present tax payment receipts, the ETD sealed the gate shut. Young students from elementary level were naturally distressed and forced to go home. This is not to say the administration of the private school is innocuous and should somehow be exempted from payment; it should be required to pay on time and display its financial records; but one is compelled to ask: Why aren’t policing bodies like the ETD and FBR this swift in implementing laws when it comes to other bigger and more corrupt entities and institutions? If law is indeed practised on an egalitarian basis, why does it not go after the big fish?

Above all, in this case the most affected are the children and the education they are entitled to. We can’t afford shutting down schools – God knows we already have a big mess on our hands. The owner ought to make amends immediately and the government should treat all classes of taxpayers fairly and equitably. If we can be this efficient over a few thousand rupees, no need to despair of recovering the billions we so desperately need to recover.