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August 4, 2020

Pakistan asks UK to extradite Shahbaz’ son-in-law

Top Story

August 4, 2020

LONDON: The government of Pakistan has asked the British government to extradite PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif’s son-in-law Imran Ali Yousuf (known as Ali Imran) on “reciprocal” basis to Pakistan to face inquiries related to corruption allegations.

A copy of the confidential document sent by PTI government to the UK Central Authority’s International Criminality Unit at the Home Office has been seen by Geo and The News, while trusted sources in the government have confirmed the move by Pakistani authorities.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser on accountability Shahzad Akbar was not available to comment, however, it is understoodthat he authorised the letter seeking Imran’s extradition. A source explained that Pakistani government has asked for Imran’s extradition on “reciprocal” basis, which means Islamabad wants London to extend the same “reciprocal” cooperation that the UK government gets while getting back British-Pakistani nationals who, in most cases, fled to Pakistan after committing serious and organised crimes and are then handed over to the British justice system.

In case of Imran and several others, Pakistan has not asked for the extradition under Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) because the two countries don’t have a treaty in place and the exchange of wanted men from Pakistan to the UK has been reciprocal. Almost every wanted person extradited from Pakistan to the UK over the last few years has been involved in murder cases.

The source added that the British government will review the Pakistani government’s request in due time. However, this is not the first request for extradition made by Pakistan in recent years. During the Panama case hearings, Pakistan asked for the extradition of Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz but the UK government took no action.

The government also requested for the extradition of Ishaq Dar, the former finance minister, several months ago, however, there has been no development. This reporter has learnt from UK government sources that more than one request has been filed by Pakistan for the extradition of Suleman Shehbaz in the last two years.

However, a PTI government source has denied that Islamabad wrote to the UK Home Office after Ali Imran initiated his libel claim against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) around three weeks ago.

PTI UK’s former London president Barrister Waheed-ur-Rehman Mian started a libel case against publishers of the Daily Mail and Mail Online around three weeks ago on behalf of his client Imran who was ‘defamed’ and ‘maligned’ by David Rose in Mail publications alleging corruption in Department for International Development (DfID).

When asked to comment on Pakistan’s request for extradition, Waheed-ur-Rehman suggested that the extradition request has been possibly made after Imran started legal action against the Daily Mail in the UK.

“We represent Imran Ali Yousaf in a defamation case where he has claimed that the article published in the said newspaper last year was based on wrong facts. As per our client’s claim, the said article has damaged his reputation not only in Pakistan but in the UK as well,” he said.

Waheed-ur-Rehman added, “If there is an extradition request from Pakistan regarding Imran Ali Yousaf then, in my opinion, it will have to be backed up by credible evidence. Because Imran Ali Yousaf has not been found guilty of any offence in Pakistan and the investigation of NAB so far against him seems flawed, it would be difficult for the UK to extradite him to Pakistan.”

Around seven months ago, Shahbaz had started libel action against Daily Mail and Rose over the same article titled “Did the family of Pakistani politician who has become the poster boy of British overseas aid STEAL funds meant for earthquake victims?”

The article had alleged that Ikram Naveed, the former finance director of Pakistan’s Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA) reached a plea bargain deal with the Pakistani government authorities and admitted in 2018 to stealing money from the ERRA account which received £54 million from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

In the article by Rose, Naveed was described as the “right-hand man” of Imran. “Naveed pleaded guilty and confessed last November to embezzling about £1.5 million from the ERRA during the period DFID was funding it, of which he passed on almost £1 million to Ali Imran. Naveed said half of this was transferred directly from ERRA’s accounts – a claim confirmed by banking records,” said the article.

The DfID has said that there was no corruption in its funds earmarked for Pakistan, both Shahbaz and Imran have separately denied corruption and allegation of benefitting from the DfID funds but Rose has told this correspondent that he stands by his story and that Daily Mail will contest the claim.