Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Muhammed Ishaq Dar told the media that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) would withdraw their petitions from the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the judgment of the Federal Shariat Court in which the Court had ordered the implementation of the interest-free banking system in the country.
Recently, a Federal Shariat Court bench headed by Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court, Justice Noor Muhammad Meskanzai declared the Riba-based banking system agaisnt Sharia and ordered to switch all banking systems in the country to an interest-free economy based on Islamic principles while setting a five years deadline for completion of the task. The SBP and the NBP along with four private banks filed petitions in Supreme Court agaisnt the decision of the Federal Shariat Court.
Historically, the implementation of Islamic law and enforcement of interest-free Islamic banking has been an important point of the political manifesto of political and religious parties as well as military dictators who ruled the country in the past. The successive governments adopted legislation to implement Islamic principles in the country and for that purpose, Zakat Committees and Bait-ul-Mall were constituted to gradually transform the entire system into Islamic theology. Pakistan’s Banking and Economic system were purely based on western lines, however, various banks and Insurance Companies opened their Islamic banking branches or constituted an additional window for interest free banking in their setups on government instructions and public demands. Although, several cosmetic measures had been taken by the past governments to satisfy public demands however recurrent attempts to transform the national economy into an interest-free system failed due to bureaucratic hurdles in the past.
Today’s economy and modern Riba-based banking system are haphazard of statistics, figures, and messy calculations coined by western economists aimed at doubling money without considering religious ethics, cultural and social norms. It is not a simple puzzle, that can be solved easily by traditional half-skilled Pakistani politicians and Europe-returned economists in no time. Apparently, the central bank’s decision to withdraw its petition agaisnt interest-free banking seems to be an outcome of the political pressure from the coalition government, otherwise, bank authorities did not oppose Shariat Court’s verdict in the top court. After a lot of ifs and buts, it is a sane decision and the incumbent government must not be limited to only the withdrawal of the petition from the court but constitute a panel of legal, banking, and economic experts including Ulema to carefully deliberate on the issue which not only have significant effects on domestic business and industry but its external component will have grave impacts on country’s dealing with the global lenders, financial institutions and foreign investors. Although it is a magnificent as well as a thorny job however administrators’ spirit will be judged by their future actions in this regard.