When burglars are caught anywhere in the world, the stuff they had stolen is recovered and returned back to the real owners while they have to undergo imprisonment for their crime. In Pakistan, though, the powerful robbers of the state that rob the nations assets are above the law. Wealth they have, with which they acquire power and political clout. With so much going for them, they are big enough never to return the stolen money back. The easily-manipulated legal system and all pervasive corruption that is a cancer of the entire executive and bureaucracy ensures they are safe atop the pile of their pilfered money. If you need examples of this, you dont know the long history of scams in Pakistan which has many a mega horror like the cooperatives scam as well as daily dacoities of the real estate mafia, human smuggling rackets, pilferages in construction of roads, bridges, public works and commission scandals in procurement of railway locomotives to commercial aircraftseverything really. In the rare case when powerful robber barons of Pakistan ever get caught, a perfunctory imprisonment in a name or payment of a small fraction of the looted money is considered enough. Once these 'dues are paid, the culprit is free to make a clean getaway and begin the work of amassing still greater wealth from the same illegitimate meanswith a vengeance. If anybody has doubts on this score, just consider the case of Swiss bank accounts of someone we need not name. In this country, the payment of just four crores settles a loan of Rs 35 crores if the defaulter is a VVIPs spouse. And if the bank happens to be Punjab Bank, the heist worth billions is simply set aside from accounts as deft default. People of Pakistan have a right to expect that these pilfered funds will be returned back to the state which needs this money today so badly that it had never needed before. In the developed world, even sitting President Richard Nixon of US was investigated for Watergate scandal and had to face the choice of resigning or facing prosecution. President Bill Clinton had also faced a Special Public Prosecutor in the Monica Lewinsky scandal for committing perjury which seems to be no crime in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In Israel, a sitting PM faced charges of corruption and was investigated by his own police and it came to a head where he was forced to resign. There are numerous such instances in rest of the democratic world too. But in Pakistan, immunity is being sought for criminal offences committed before assuming office, and oh-so-shamelessly too and despite directives to the contrary by the Supreme Court of Pakistan too. You might argue that the executive has constitutional powers vested in a constitutional appointee only for constitutional acts and not unlawful ones. You might even argue that sovereign prestige of the state is damaged abroad if a constitutional appointee like the President refuses to face allegations with moral or legal implications, especially if allegations are also being levelled in the international media. But that doesnt apply to Pakistan, does it?. -T. ALI, Lahore, September 25.