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Tuesday June 18, 2024

Extradition of murder suspect from Dubai

By Wajid Baloch
December 09, 2023

KARACHI: After a month of waiting, the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday took up a petition seeking extradition of a suspect from Dubai in the murder case of former State Life Insurance’s (SLI) regional chief Muhammad Ahmed Amjad. However, contrary to the expectation of a comprehensive report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) submitted in the court that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has not responded to the extradition request, despite repeated reminders sent to them in the past two months.

The extradition pertains to a murder accused, Taqi Shah, who currently lives in Dubai. After his attachment request was not accepted, Shah allegedly barged into his own regional chief’s office in 2008 and fired ten shots at him, which proved fatal. 

The Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — AFP/File
The Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — AFP/File

Following the murder, the accused immediately fled out of the country. His whereabouts remained unknown for 12 years. The state also showed no significant interest in delivering justice in the murder case.

A breakthrough in this case occurred when the deceased’s daughter, Maham Amjad, after years of searching, found out through social media in 2020 that the accused was currently living in Dubai. She informed the Pakistani authorities, who issued a red notice against the accused. Following this, the UAE government had asked the Pakistani authorities to submit an extradition file for the accused in January 2023. However, from then until now, whenever the MoFA has submitted the extradition file to the Dubai authorities, they have returned it for being incomplete.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Interior, which was responsible for providing the extradition documents, has stated that it has shared all the documents with the MoFA.

From January 2023 to August 2023, the UAE raised objections thrice to the extradition file provided by the Pakistani authorities. In September 2023, the MOFA submitted another extradition file to the Dubai authorities for the suspect’s extradition, after redressing the concerns. However, the UAE has not responded back despite a lapse of two months.

During the hearing, MoFA’s deputy protocol chief Gyan Chand submitted a written response in the SHC, stating: “Our mission in Abu Dhabi is in regular contact with the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a daily basis regarding the progress in extradition of the accused. We are awaiting a response from the UAE authorities and will inform the court as soon as we receive the response.”

It is pertinent to mention that that the MoFA had submitted a similar response on October 23, after which the hearing of the case was adjourned for over a month.

In its written order, the court noted that the MoFA sent three reminders to the UAE and requested a meeting with the Dubai authorities to discuss the matter. The court emphasized: “We once again direct the MoFA to expedite the progress on this matter. If no progress is shown, the additional secretary for the ministry will be directed to appear personally in the court.” The hearing has been adjourned for three weeks.

An important thing to note is that when this correspondent reported on the incomprehensible delay in this case on December 4, while raising questions on the qualifications of the Pakistani mission in Dubai based on the internal communication of ministries, the Pakistan Embassy in Dubai’s deputy head of mission, Afaaq Ahmed, sent an email to the MoFA in Islamabad, which has been submitted in the court.

The email stated, “This case came into the limelight when Shahzeb Khanzada, the host of the Geo News programme ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath’, conducted a 33-minute show on December 4, in which Maham alleged that the extradition file for the accused had been tampered with. She claimed that some documents were removed from the file before it was submitted to the UAE authorities. She has been tweeting against the SLI, Federal Investigation Agency, police, judges, and our mission.”

The email added, “The embassy has taken all necessary steps to advance the extradition request for the accused. As soon as the extradition file was received from the MoFA, we sent it to the Dubai authorities for their consideration. In most extradition cases, the UAE requests additional documents and information by sending the files back. The embassy asks the MoFA to redress the issues in consultation with the interior ministry as well seeks their assistance in expediting the responses. In some cases, it may take up to four to five months for the responses from both countries to be received.”

The email did not provide clarification on how much time was needed for the embassy to address simple objections in each extradition file. The extradition request has been pending for the past 11 months, because the UAE believes that Pakistan has not yet submitted the complete and verified documents for the extradition of the accused.

In January 2023, the Dubai authorities requested an extradition file from the Pakistani authorities, but no progress has been made since then. As of now, the MoFA states that there has been no response from the UAE on the reminders sent since September 2023 regarding the extradition request.

Responding to the email, Maham has clarified that she has not posted anything against the FIA and judges on social media. However, she claims that solid evidence is available for the posts she made against certain individuals, which has also been shared with media.