Panama Decision – The Need For A New International Approach

Panama Decision – The Need For A New International Approach

The Panama case in Pakistan has made serious headlines in recent months and it can determine the future of our country! Or not.

Regardless of the Panama hype, it is to be noted that an issue of “grand corruption” is an insidious plague that has undermined democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan and has led to violations of human rights, eroding the quality of life and allowing organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security, including threatening the stability of our country. If we keep on going like this as a nation, we will very soon breed contempt for law that will be an open invitation for every person to become a law unto oneself, leading to anarchy. Undoubtedly, the government is the potent, omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, we should not blame the masses for the consequences.

In Pakistan, amongst many other countries, corruption is pervasive at the highest levels of national government and most of the times goes unpunished. It has been decades that politicians and state agents entitled to make and enforce the law in the name of the people, are misusing this authority to sustain their power and status.

Regardless of the ruling in the Panama case, there should be a new approach on grand corruption, perhaps on the lines of some of the precedents set by the western world. One of the propositions could be an anti-corruption court (apart from NAB),  an independent body absolutely free from influence or control from the federation and the existing judicial system. The suo motu powers in Pakistan should now be established to provide a forum for the criminal enforcement of laws prohibiting “grand corruption”.

The ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), called the Supreme Court verdict a victory for the party. Well, it could be – or not – hence we need to have some faith in the joint investigation team (JIT) and wait till the next decision comes. It is a high possibility that JIT would have the potential to erode this widespread culture of impunity, leading to a much more honest country that will be free of grand corruption.

Indeed “the issue won’t be resolved” until the investigation has been fully concluded and this is just the beginning. If we benchmark western democracies and judicial systems from a legal standpoint, the decision made by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Panamagate was a very fair, impartial and balanced decision.

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which she might be associated.

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Hamna Zain

The writer is a Barrister-at-Law from Lincoln’s Inn, UK and is a founding partner of Zen Law Chambers. She also works as a corporate lawyer at Coca Cola and provides pro bono services for women and minority rights in Badin and Thar. She can be contacted at hamna@zen.com.pk



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