The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ordered the formation of a working group to propose recommendations to curb money laundering and bring money back to Pakistan.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar passed the order while hearing a suo motu case on foreign bank accounts held by Pakistani citizens which was initiated in February after reports surfaced that people in positions of power had looted money and transferred it to foreign countries.
The working group is to present its recommendations to Parliament. "Once the recommendations are presented to Parliament, the situation will not be our responsibility anymore," the CJP said.
CJP Nisar observed during the hearing that a lot of Pakistanis have holed their money up in Dubai, Malaysia and various other countries.
He expressed concern that the hammer trying to break shell companies may end up broken itself, and added that the court does not want to create a situation that impacts Pakistan's economy negatively.
"Chartered accountants are the only ones that can help us bring that money back to Pakistan," he remarked.
"Why don't we call the 100 richest people in the country to court and ask them to provide us the details of their foreign assets," the chief justice asked, adding that it may be possible they would heed the court's advice and disclose the details. "How many of them, do you think, will run away?" the chief justice wondered.
"It is everyone's responsibility to bring the country's money back. We should make this country a better place for our future generations," he said, further stating that the court was working towards leaving Pakistan a better country for the generations to come.
In an earlier hearing of the case, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had shared a report regarding the steps it took regarding the matter of offshore companies after the release of the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, which revealed details of the wealth stored abroad by Pakistani citizens.
The court had also directed the State Bank of Pakistan, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the Finance Ministry to submit a detailed report on the matter in court.