ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to write to Interpol for the extradition of a fugitive Baloch separatist, who is seeking political asylum in India after Switzerland turned down his request for refuge.
“The Federal Investigation Agency will send a formal reference to Interpol within the next few days for the extradition of Brahamdagh Bugti,” Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told journalists at the headquarters of the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) on Friday.
Brahamdagh had fled to Afghanistan after his grandfather Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in a military operation in Kohlu in 2006. Later he flew to Switzerland via India to seek asylum there. He is accused of leading the Baloch Republican Army, a proscribed separatist group blamed for militant violence in Balochistan.
Nisar’s statement came a day after India’s home ministry said it was examining Bugti’s application for political asylum. “We have received Bugti’s application for political asylum and it is under examination,” The Times of India quoted a home ministry official as saying. Bugti had applied for asylum in Indian consulate in Geneva four days ago. Pakistan’s Foreign Office said Bugti’s request for asylum in India was indicative of India’s involvement in terrorism in Balochistan.
“Their [Indians’] feelings about Brahamdagh Bugti and their invitation to him unmistakably establish who is behind terrorism (in Balochistan),” Nisar said. “The government is doing its homework. In the next few days, we will be writing to Interpol about this person through the FIA [Federal Investigation Agency]. We will be sending a formal reference to Interpol, asking for his extradition to Pakistan.”
The minister also accused India of blaming Pakistan for the Uri attack without any concrete evidence. “The Indians don’t have any evidence, so what sort of investigation can Pakistan carry out? They have blamed us just to defame Pakistan.”
Referring to media reports that the Indian defence ministry has directed the media to verify news related to the Indian army, Nisar said they did that because their propaganda was being exposed by their own news channels.
“We have not imposed any such censorship on our media. It is India that has imposed censorship on its media. And why are they doing that? Because their lies have been exposed,” he added. “Even their DGMO [director general military operations] rejected the statement attributed to him regarding evidence against Pakistan. Many other statements that were being blatantly flaunted by their media have been contradicted. So, Pakistan has nothing to answer. Whatever clarifications are required have to be given by India,” Nisar said.
In his news briefing, the minister also said that corrupt officials in Nadra have compromised Pakistan’s security by issuing CNICs to people without verifying their identity. “Pakistan had to answer to the UN for issuing a CNIC to the slain Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.”
Eighteen officials found involved in issuing CNICs to hundreds of foreigners have been identified, he said, adding that eight have already been arrested while seven have obtained pre-arrest bails.
The minister described the CNIC re-verification campaign as ‘very successful’. “Out of 105 million CNICs, 82.5 million have already been verified,” he said, voicing the hope that the re-verification drive would be completed in four months. He said about 60,000 CNICs have been identified as fake. “More than 2,000 foreigners have surrendered their fake CNICs to avoid legal action.”
Nisar said in the past different countries used to deport people found involved in terrorism to Pakistan without the consent of local authorities. “Now the interior ministry will verify the status of a deportee before accepting him or her. “The airlines that flew some deportees to Pakistan without verification had been fined up to Rs40 million and those deportees were sent back though the same airlines,” Nisar added.
He said the MQM-Pakistan, led by Dr Farooq Sattar, has taken a ‘brave and courageous’ decision to disown the London-based leadership. “It’s a defining moment because it’s not just about the MQM; it is about the Urdu-speaking people who love Pakistan from the core of their hearts. Whether it’s the government, opposition or state institutions, there must not be any action that could generate a perception among them that they are being targeted.”
“One couldn’t even have imagined that Altaf Hussain’s own party will stand up against him. This is a major step. Everybody should support the person who is standing against the person who had been chanting slogans against Pakistan. We must support such people.”
While replying to another query about rangers’ deployment in Punjab, the minister said there was unanimity that the Rangers or even the army would be deployed in Punjab where their deployment was needed. “Some meetings on the SOPs have already been held regarding the Rangers deployment in the province while a few more meetings will be held in the next few days to finalise the SOPs.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2016.