Pak, UK sign MoU to start process for extradition of ex-finance minister Ishaq Dar
Islamabad, May 27 : Pakistan and the UK have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to start the process for the extradition of former finance minister Ishaq Dar, who has been declared an absconder in a graft case linking to the Panama Papers scandal.
The MoU – signed this week and case specific to 68-year-old Dar – provides legal basis in the absence of an extradition treaty, Geo TV reported.
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, it said.
Dar, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader, left Pakistan soon after a court began hearings against him in a graft case filed in line with the Supreme Court’s July 2017 Panama Papers verdict. After his arrival in London, he underwent treatment for heart related ailment at a Harley Street hospital.
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 channel said.
The document, signed by Graeme Biggar, the new Justice and Accountability focal person for Pakistan on behalf of Home Secretary Javid and Akbar stated that the MoU means the “surrender to the government of Pakistan of Dar for the purpose of prosecution there for one or more offences and for the purpose of serving a sentence of imprisonment”, it added.
The MoU states that it provides for “more effective cooperation in combating crime”.
The case of asset beyond means was launched against Dar in September 2017 on the orders of Supreme Court after it disqualified Nawaz Sharif and ordered corruption cases against him, his children Maryam Nawaz, Husain and Hasan and son-in-law (retd) Captain Muhammad Safdar.
The anti-corruption watchdog already seized all of movable and immovable assets of Dar located in Lahore and Islamabad.
According to the case, Dar acquired assets worth Rs 831.7 million, which was disproportionate to the known sources of his income.
The Panama Papers case is about alleged money laundering by Sharif in the 1990s when he twice served as Pakistan’s prime minister to purchase assets in London.
Citing a source familiar with the development, the channel said that it’s a big step towards Pakistan’s efforts for the extradition of Dar in the absence of a treaty — the only possibility of someone’s extradition is by way of a special arrangement for the extradition of a specific person.
In recent years, the UK has made such special arrangements with the government of Rwanda and once with Taiwan.
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 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 that is imprisonable for more than one year and doesn’t involve death penalty.
Citing a PTI government source, the channel said that in the next two weeks Pakistani government will send material to the secretary of state for the extradition of Dar and it is hoped that he secretary of state will accelerate the process.
The British government had told Pakistan that it was ready to sign an extradition treaty with Pakistan with the 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 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.