Nawaz Sharif as the phenomena was born during the colonial era, when subcontinent was occupied by Great Britain. Great Britain was first and foremost preoccupied with geopolitical rivalries and therefore wished to ensure the loyalty of its colonial subjects—even if this came at the cost of overlooking a certain amount of illicit commerce.

Colonial merchants developed an impressive repertoire of evasive maneuvers to conceal the origins, nationality, routes, and content of their illicit cargoes. This included frequent use of fraudulent paperwork to make the cargo appear legal and authorized. And much to the frustration of the British authorities, when seizures did happen local merchants were often able to use sympathetic provincial courts to reclaim their confiscated goods and have their cases dismissed.

Britain’s “salutary neglect” and pragmatic tolerance trumped enforcement and revenue collection. Colonial traders continued to use circuitous routes to smuggle goods, disguise their cargo, and dole out bribes rather than publicly challenge the king’s right to collect duties and enforce the trade laws. Institutionalized corruption had a pacifying effect; informal financial accommodation meant that violence between smugglers and customs inspectors was rare. Consequently, colony of British India was a lawless country.

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