At least ensuring construction of one dam is what the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar wants to achieve before he leaves his office. The CJP who will leave the office of CJP in January 2019 has one point agenda: raising funds enough for erecting one dam by any means necessary. In his orders to the authorities to present twenty Pakistanis having properties abroad with a dubious source of income, while hearing a case on wealth and assets stashed in foreign countries, CJP remarked that the worth of these properties was one thousand billion in Pakistan’s currency, a figure that he thinks is enough for construction of a dam.

The court wants them to provide the money trail for their assets on the next hearing. However, a question worth asking is if the law enforcement authorities have put their names on the exit control list (ECL) not to give them a chance of fleeing the country? Though the government cannot put anyone behind bars, under the Income Tax Ordinance, if one does not disclose the assets that one holds outside one’s home country, yet, the fact that these people applied for amnesty suggests that their means of income need to be questioned.

The intentions of honourable CJP are sincere as he says so repeatedly, and no one questions his inquiry about the assets stashed abroad, the comment that it is almost impossible for the country to bring back the money that has been invested in other states through the means that CJP is suggesting. People can only be convinced of investing in Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan cannot ask any foreign country to remit the stashed money back to Pakistan without first executing an agreement to this effect. The only exception, in this case, is the United Kingdom (UK), with which Pakistan has signed a treaty on disclosure of accounts opened in the UK by Pakistanis.

Despite all such challenges, if the twenty people are found guilty of the offence of money laundering, tax evasion, and illegal means of income, they can be convicted under Pakistani laws with the imposition of hefty fines. The task before the three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) is a gigantic one. So far no wealth illegally stashed abroad has been brought back to Pakistan. In the past, political governments had also made many promises to the nation to bring the wealth stolen from Pakistan back to the country. But these promises could not be fulfilled. Legally speaking it is difficult to do so for Pakistan has entered in no such agreement with any state that gives Pakistan its stolen wealth back.