THE arrest and subsequent guilty plea submitted by what was once one of Pakistan’s biggest currency dealers raises important questions about the abilities of the country’s law enforcers.
Many members of the Khanani and Kalia families were involved in their currency business and arrested back in 2008 for involvement in hundi/ hawala transactions that allegedly led huge sums of money to be ferried out of the country.
Estimates provided by the FIA at the time suggested that almost 40pc of all currency transfers from Pakistan were managed by Khanani and Kalia International, and in the months leading up to the arrest of some senior company officials, including owners and employees, in November 2008, billions of dollars had been flown out of the country.
Even though the FIA raided their premises and confiscated their computers, meticulously going through the records, and filed multiple cases against the company and its owners and directors, there was not a single conviction.
Yet, within two years, the US authorities not only carried out a simple sting operation but were able to arrest and persuade Altaf Khanani to plead guilty in one of their courts.
How did the Pakistani authorities lose this case so badly and the US act on it so fast?
The answer is not simple, and the manner in which the cases were mishandled reveals a lot.
Across the board, a series of simple and difficult-to believe errors of this sort added up to acquittals for all accused and their eventual release.
We could attribute this to incompetence, but it would take a very methodical sort of incompetence to achieve such a feat.
Clearly, there were powerful forces at play to thwart the course of justice, and those forces apparently operated the machinery of the law very deftly through a series of interventions that were small enough to be invisible yet sufficiently meaningful to kill the case.
It is difficult to point a finger at the political government of the time considering it had itself ordered the raids and investigation.
The whole case presents an abiding mystery, and the recent arrest and guilty plea tell us that there was a fair amount of wrongdoing at work.
It is imperative that the case be revisited in this country, and the government make a renewed attempt to seek justice in the matter in light of all the facts that have been revealed in the US court.
Published in Dawn November 8th, 2016