Ayyan
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Supreme Court of Pakistan has removed fashion model, Ayyan Ali from the exit control list (ECL) permitting her to travel abroad. Thus a case that dominated media, gossip mills and political drawing rooms has finally come to an end. But the final drop scene of this case – though long expected – is yet another damning verdict on county’s criminal justice system and its politics.

Supreme Court allows model Ayyan Ali to go abroad, Dawn

Ayyan was seen as a carrier that was allegedly laundering money for politically connected personalities

The Supreme Court’s three member bench headed by Chief Justic Saqib Nisar upheld the Sindh High Court decision, of June 2016, that had already taken off Ayyan Ali from ECL. Interior ministry had appealed against decision of Sindh High Court on the plea that Ayyan was put on ECL by Punjab Government and she could not have been granted relief by the high court of Sindh. However, Apex Court found that argument to be void of any merit. Chef Justice Saqib Nisar was critical of the incompetence of investigating agencies and institutions that kept the case pending for two years without completing the investigation

This case has again reaffirmed that Pakistan’s criminal justice system is incapable of successfully prosecuting the rich and influential or the politically connected high and powerful of Pakistan. And all Pakistani state agencies collapse and become helpless when it comes to politically influential or really rich.

When case against Ayyan Ali first emerged in March of 2015, it was immediately obvious through media reporting that it was not about her and that she merely represents the tip of an ice-burg. Circumstantial evidence lead to allegations that she was high profile “money carrier”, the half million US $ she was carrying did not belong to her; cash was given to her at the airport and that she was allegedly laundering money for top level politically connected personalities. And the allegations went straight up to the former president of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari.

Why Supermodel Ayyan Ali was arrested? Express Tribune, March 14, 2015

Police, investigating agencies and custom intelligence has never presented the court with the facts of the actual case

What was needed was a proper FIA enquiry from the outset. However for  quiet a while case was left with Customs Intelligence which did not have the necessary reach and capacity to look into its full aspects. It was never determined: what was the Ayyan Ali’s annual income? were her taxes corresponding with that income? was she in a situation to carry US $ half a million in cash? Why was she carrying that cash? what was her net financial worth and physical or other assets and did she have a trajectory of career success to prove all that?

The fundamental questions to be addressed were: How many times she travelled out of Pakistan between 2008 and 2015? Was that traveling related to fashion concerts? Was there any documentary evidence of her invitations, of the actual happenings of those concerts, payments made and received, bank transactions, cheques received or written and taxes paid.

The fundamental questions to be addressed were: How many times she travelled out of Pakistan between 2008 and 2015? Was that traveling related to fashion concerts? Was there any documentary evidence of her invitations, of the actual happenings of those concerts, payments made and received, bank transactions, cheques received or written and taxes paid.

Under political influences case kept on becoming from one thing to the other and finally Ayyan was nominated as a suspect in murder case of a custom inspector. Police, investigating agencies and custom intelligence could never present the courts with the facts of the actual case. Actual case was forgotten after the first few months and like every other thing in Pakistan’s criminal justice system it became a technical or legal issue. In the last one year the wrangling was merely on her status on ECL, actual case had lost all legal value. Ayyan Ali became an object of play, a pawn, between former president Asif Ali Zardari and his enemies, finally ending as yet another failure of Pakistan’s Justice System. Throughout this period, she was represented by Pakistan’s former Governor of Punjab, former law minister and Attorney General, Lateef Khosa, a leading PPP member and a confidant of former President Asif Ali Zardari.

Ayyan Ali case has also set yet another precedent that assertions of claims of cash transactions, lack of time marked documentation, absence of of bank transactions etc are never probed by Pakistani agencies and courts.

Ayyan Ali case has also set yet another precedent that assertions of claims of cash transactions by accusers, failure to provide any time marked or dated documentation, absence of bank transactions etc are never probed by Pakistani agencies and courts. Pakistani legal system is prepared to accept ridiculous assertions about cash payments without any corroborative banking or dated financial transactions. All that is still happening during a period when governments keep on committing to financial transparency and accountability to international donors like IMF, World Bank and ADP. And what does it tell us about the roles and responsibility of such international monetary institutions?

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