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May 27, 2019

Pakistan, UK sign MoU for Dar’s extradition

Top Story

May 27, 2019

LONDON: The British government and Pakistan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the formal beginning of process for the extradition former finance minister Ishaq Dar to Pakistan.

The News has seen a copy of the MoU -- signed this week and case specific to Ishaq Dar -- which provides legal basis in the absence of an extradition treaty. It’s understood that the MoU was signed after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Adviser on Accountability Shahzad Akbar held talks with British Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

On May 23, the home secretary tweeted: “Pleasure to meet with @ShazadAkbar again this morning to discuss progress on UK-Pakistan efforts to tackle corruption.” The MoU states that the Government of Pakistan and the British government have developed an understanding “for the extradition of Ishaq Dar to the jurisdiction of the government of Pakistan”.

The document, signed by Graeme Biggar, the new Justice and Accountability focal person for Pakistan on behalf of Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Shahzad Akbar stated that the MoU means the “surrender to the government of Pakistan of Ishaq Dar for the purpose of prosecution there for one or more offences and for the purpose of serving a sentence of imprisonment”.

The MoU states that it provides for “more effective cooperation in combating crime”. It goes on that the MoU is “mindful of the guarantee under the respective legal system which produces an accused person right to fair trial including the right to adjudication by an impartial tribunal established pursuant to law”.

A source familiar with the development said that it’s a big step towards Pakistan’s efforts for the extradition of Ishaq Dar in the absence of a treaty -- the only possibility of someone’s extradition is by way of a special arrangement for extradition of a specific person.

In recent years, the UK has made such special arrangements with the government of Rwanda and once with Taiwan. In relation to Rwanda, the UK government was satisfied that the human rights situation had improved drastically before agreeing a MoU. The source claimed that the MoU means that the UK govt is satisfied that Pakistan is a suitable extradition destination and the UK is ready to consider extraditing the former finance minister once the laws of England and Wales are met.

The source said the principle of dual criminality is met in this case and the offences alleged are extradition offences which include every offence which is imprisonable for more than one year and doesn’t involve death penalty.

Speaking to The News, a PTI government source said that in the next two weeks Pakistani government will send material to the secretary of state for the extradition of Ishaq Dar and it is hoped that the secretary of state will accelerate the process.

The British government had told Pakistan that it was ready to sign extradition treaty with Pakistan with exception of offences resulting in death sentence upon conviction. Pakistan agreed to accept that condition of UK by providing appropriate assurances in such cases in future and following that Shahzad Akbar visited London this week.

The UK had told Pakistan that the treaty with Pakistan cannot be signed on the grounds that the latter has not abolished death sentence and cited it a matter of human rights. Recently, the cabinet approved amendments in the laws in this connection.

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