–Barrister Zafarullah Khan says British government may take any decision on Pakistan’s request regardless of a bilateral extradition treaty
ISLAMABAD: British High Commissioner Thomas Drew on Tuesday dropped a hint on extradition of proclaimed offenders of the Sharif family to Pakistan, saying that the British government would consider any request of Pakistani government made in this regard.
Speaking at his lecture on ‘’Pak-UK Relations in view of Post-Brexit Foreign Policy” here at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), the British high commissioner was asked about the strategy of the British government for repatriation of the accused Pakistanis in money laundering cases, including former finance minister Ishaq Dar, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz.
“I can’t comment on individual cases, however, we will consider any request made by the Pakistan government on merit,” said the ambassador.
Drew also said the United Kingdom (UK) had offered Pakistan’s new government its technical assistance to address the issue of money-laundering to get itself out of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey-list.
The British high commissioner said Pakistan had done very well in the past five months on the issue of FATF by taking remedial steps to check money laundering.
When contacted, advisor on law to outgoing prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Barrister Zafarullah Khan confirmed that though Pakistan and UK had not signed a bilateral extradition treaty for repatriation of any accused, the British government might take any decision on Pakistan’s request in this regard.
When asked if Britain was bound to repatriate accused involved in money laundering under the recently signed treaty of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) between the two countries, Zafarullah said that OECD convention was only about the sharing of information regarding stolen assets and assets developed through money laundering.
“The PML-N government had taken steps for recovery of stolen assets. We had signed two conventions for this purpose and those involved the OECD with the UK and a bilateral agreement for the sharing of information and recovery of stolen wealth and assets. Both were about sharing of information of assets but not repatriation of the accused,” he said.
The PML-N leader also said that even though there was no extradition treaty signed between Britain and Pakistan, the country could bring back any accused from the UK.
He said that there always are exceptions as the PML-N government had made several efforts to bring back Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain, who is wanted for his alleged involvement in Dr Imran Farooq murder case, but Britain did not entertain the repeated requests.
“So it’s now up to UK authorities to repatriate accused Pakistan wants to bring back from London,” he concluded.
It merits mention here that British media has already reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to approach Britain to request the seizure of luxury London flats belonging to his predecessor as Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and seek the extradition of his two sons to stand trial for corruption.
The cricket legend has vowed to repatriate billions of pounds in Pakistani assets laundered in the UK, starting with those of Nawaz Sharif.
Fawad Chaudhry, Khan’s information minister, confirmed that a formal approach would soon be made to the British government seeking the arrest of Nawaz’s two sons, Hassan and Hussain, as “absconding criminals”, and the seizure of assets in Britain which the Sharifs allegedly bought through ‘laundered money.