Gangsters pulling strings from abroad

Official cites lack of extradition accords, prompt action at airports

Nouman Sheikh July 08, 2022
A file photo shows an Airport Security Force (ASF) official.


Investigation into the murder of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala in India has revealed that the attack had been planned in jail and carried out by shooters who had arrived from abroad.

The incident has highlighted the challenge for the police of taking action against heinous crimes committed at the behest of gangsters who have fled abroad.

A Lahore police DSP, Muhammad Ali Butt, told The Express Tribune that gangsters who had fled abroad were involved in major incidents of targeted killing, extortion and kidnapping for ransom in Punjab but action against them was not possible because there was no extradition agreement with the countries where they were living. He also pointed to failure of the authorities to stop such criminals from leaving the country.

He said such criminals, especially those from Lahore, usually formed their own gangs after committing some crimes. Some of those who evade arrest or are released on bail flee abroad.

He said that to prevent the escape of such suspects, the police had to write a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which then wrote to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) immigration authorities. By the time the name of a criminal is included in the Exit Control List, he has time to escape.

He said there should be a mechanism for urgently alerting the FIA in such cases.

The DSP said a man wanted in cases of targeted killing and kidnapping for ransom, Lala Shahbaz, had fled from Sialkot Airport to the United States and from there to Canada and was suspected of having orchestrated crimes from there, including murder of traders resisting extortion.

The police caught the shooters in several cases, but the gang hired others. The official said that when the police came close to netting the most notorious shooter, known as Imran Pistol, he also managed to escape abroad.

Butt claimed that one Mir Abdullah was allegedly running the Black Eagle gang from the Middle East. A shooter named Gama had fled the country after being identified by investigators.

The police official alleged that another gangster, Afzal Kano, was involved from abroad in crimes in Punjab despite a Rs200,000 reward for his arrest.

An official said the Lahore police leadership had intensified action against gangs of shooters.

Defending the police against allegations regarding encounters, he said the suspected gangsters were desperate at the time of arrest because they faced strict punishment, so they resorted to firing rather than surrendering. Their accomplices also attempt to free them by attacking the police officials escorting them.

DSP Muhammad Ali Butt said the government should focus on collecting concrete evidence against criminals residing abroad to pursue their repatriation.

He also stressed the need for efficient coordination between the airports, FIA and the police to prevent escape of criminals from the country.

He said officials should be deputed for continued efforts for Acton against suspected criminals operating from abroad, while the prosecution of cases should also be strengthened.

He said the leaders of the gangs whose members were killed in encounters often survived to hire and train criminals to replace them.

In a recent incident, a five-year-old boy was abducted from Batapur last month and a ransom of Rs100 million was demanded from a phone number of Dubai. A relative of the child was found involved in the incident.


Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2022.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ