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Why our banking systems need immediate attention?

A stolen wealth of the nation is illegally transferred through the banking system to acquire expensive real estate abroad or to be re-routed back as white money. If caught, the bank has to pay the fine thereby burdening the other account holders. In 2017 HBL paid $ 225 Million in fines and had to shut up its New York operations.

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Our banking system is under threat from the ‘Paparwalas’. After Habib Bank Limited (HBL), the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has been fined for ‘Money Laundering’. The ‘Paparwalas’ and the ‘Chaprassis’ are unstoppable and untouchable. No court has been able to convict them. A stolen wealth of the nation is illegally transferred through the banking system to acquire expensive real estate abroad or to be re-routed back as white money. If caught, the bank has to pay the fine thereby burdening the other account holders. In 2017 HBL paid $ 225 Million in fines and had to shut up its New York operations.

This time NBP has been fined $ 55 Million for the same offense. Being a Public Sector Enterprise (PSE), the burden will have to be carried by the people. While the ‘Paparwalas’ go scot free, the regulators blame the bank officials for negligence. Recently there have been serious charges of nepotism in senior appointments. Unfortunately, despite the commitment to the merit of the Prime Minister (PM), several questionable selections have been carried out right under the nose of the PM. In the case of HBL, then-President Nauman Dar a person of professional integrity went home. After this debacle, heads should also role in NBP but it should not end here, the ‘Paparwalas’ should also be taken to task to plug these leaks together with the ministers who appointed them.

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The word ‘Wala’ is extensively used in the land of the pure

It signifies a domain, connection, or link. During the governorship of Nawab Amir Muhammad Khan of Kalabagh, there was a ‘Goonda’ (Ruffin) called ‘Accha Shakerwala’ though he had nothing to do with the Sugar trade. He was a favorite of the Nawab and was bestowed with several awards. Accha’s rival was ‘agga Gujjar’ also known as ‘Bakarmandiwala’. While Jagga was his own man, Accha did the dirty work of the Governor. The city of Lahore was controlled by these outlaws in the decade of the sixties. Finally, when better sense prevailed and the Nawab was replaced with General (R) Musa Khan as the Governor, both these notorious characters were gunned down in ‘Police Encounters’.

Then there were upscale ‘Walas’ like ‘Australia wala’. The Kashmiri Bux family of Lahore decided to transfer their fortune from Australia to their hometown. They made heavy investments in real estate, established the famous Lahore Hotel near the Railway Station also started the Australia Bank which was later nationalized and named Allied Bank of Pakistan (ABL). Then there were several of them in Karachi, e.g. Motiwala, Mandviwala, Japanwala to name a few. Except for Accha of Lahore, most of these ‘Walas’ were credible individuals. Then there was another ‘Trukkanwala’ who was recently gunned down at the Lahore Airport.

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Understanding the terms better

‘Paparwalas’, is a new phenomenon directly linked with the ‘Charter of Democracy (COD) that was signed in London by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif and drafted by the late Rehman Malik. A concept of ‘Frontmen’ was created to siphon off the wealth of the nation through official banking channels without being noticed. In the twenty century Al-Capone, the Mafia Boss of Chicago invented this approach to avoid legal scrutiny or conviction. The term ‘Teflon Crime Boss’ was used for him which is the most resistant and durable material developed by mankind. He had the services of expensive lawyers, no one dared to appear as a witness against his crimes. Scar Face as he was called, remained untouchable.

Finally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) got him for tax evasion and undeclared assets for which he could not provide legal sources or trails. Once imprisoned his chain of command was disrupted, he was convicted. He was unable to complete his term and died in prison thus ending his reign of terror, crime and corruption. Our ‘Paparwalas’ are in fact the Al-Capones of the 21st century equally untouchable as the ‘Teflon Crime Boss ‘. Most of them can also be classified as ‘Shakarwala’ of our times but much more influential than the gun downed ‘Accha’.

Unless controlled, checked and convicted the ‘Paparwalas’ can cause the collapse of our entire financial framework. It is a serious attack on our institutions that cannot remain unchecked. The current ‘No-Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister is also linked with the same phenomenon of loot and blunder by individuals holding high public offices. Performance of the present regime is an issue but the menace of the ‘Paparwalas’ is a much more lethal attack on our institutions.

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In the next general elections scheduled for 2023, the party in power can be voted out but if ‘Paparwalas’ prevail it will lead to the financial collapse of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for which our parents struggled and sacrificed. Till the decade of the eighties ‘Papar’ was a popular domestic industry but with the entry of corrupt politicians, the ‘ Paparwalas ‘ was created as cover to rob the nation on one hand while ruining the once-popular local snack called ‘Papar’ locally or ‘Papadiun’ internationally on the other. In both cases, the beneficiaries are few and sufferers are many. It is time to unmask the mystery of the ‘Paparwalas’ to uncover the real faces behind them.

 

 

 

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at fmaliks@hotmail.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.