With a continuing deadlock over Pakistan’s efforts to extradite former president Pervez Musharraf from the UK, Islamabad is expediting efforts to conclude extradition treaties with European countries at the earliest, according to the Foreign Office.
The move came a month after attempts to have Musharraf extradited to Pakistan hit a roadblock, as the possibility of capital punishment impedes the formulation of an agreement between the two countries. Musharraf is wanted by an anti-terrorism court in former premier Benazir Bhutto’s assassination case.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the foreign ministry revealed on April 22 that an extradition treaty between Pakistan and the UK “remains ambivalent” because the joint judicial team assigned to finalise the accord differed over the likelihood of the ‘death sentence’.
“Efforts to conclude extradition treaties with various countries are going on,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Moazam Ali Khan. The foreign affairs ministry’s various desks, namely, Europe, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Middle East, North America and Central Asia are working on such efforts. “Particularly, our focus is on Europe…to expedite the efforts for concluding extradition treaties,” Khan told The Express Tribune.
At present, Pakistan has extradition treaties with 27 countries. They are the US, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Liberia, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Maldives, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yugoslavia.
Officials of the interior and foreign affairs ministries say that Islamabad wants to sign extradition treaties with European countries under the Pakistan Extradition Act, 1972. The legal teams of both ministries after detailed interaction with officials of various countries, namely the UK, France, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland and Italy will likely make headway in the near future in this regard, they added.
Capital punishment is the main hurdle in concluding the extradition treaties, said the foreign office legal director Sher Bahadur Khan.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has also been engaged in efforts to sign extradition treaties with various countries, particularly the UK, to bring home various absconding Pakistanis wanted by courts and law enforcement agencies particularly former president Musharraf. Help has been sought from Interpol in this regard as well.
Islamabad’s British High Commission Press Attaché Mike Girling said the British government did not comment on the ongoing discussion on the extradition treaty between the two countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.