Thursday, April 16, 2015

Trade-off: UK asked to extradite Baloch rebels first

By Zahid Gishkori

April 16, 2015
Request to hand over Imran Farooq murder suspects ‘needs reciprocity’.

ISLAMABAD: Offering the United Kingdom a quid pro quo, Pakistan’s security czar has said that if the British government wants Pakistan to hand over the suspects of MQM leader Imran Farooq’s murder, then it would have to fulfil our requests.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar raised this issue in a meeting with a top UK diplomat in Islamabad, an interior ministry official told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.

The official said the Pakistani government would hand over the suspects to Scotland Yard in exchange for fugitive Baloch separatists stoking unrest in Balochistan.

“The Pakistani government has also sought London’s help to choke terror funding to activists of the Hizbut Tahrir (HuT), a proscribed group,” the official said. The organisation is said to be receiving funds from many countries, including the UK.

“We want reciprocal cooperation,” a senior official quoted Nisar as telling British High Commissioner Philip Barton, who had met the minister a day earlier. “The British government must stop those inciting violence in Pakistan from the UK.”

“One-sided cooperation is impossible,” the minister said on Wednesday while briefing the media. “If Islamabad hands over the suspects to [the UK], and if they do not extradite the suspects Pakistan wants, then, yes, [the UK] will have to hand over all Britain-based criminals involved in unrest in Pakistan.”

However, Pakistan cannot hand over any suspect to Scotland Yard. “As far as handing over a suspect to Britain is concerned, I clarified to the high commissioner that we don’t have an extradition treaty with them,” said Nisar.

In their recent visits to the UK, Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif and the interior minister have discussed with the British authorities issues concerning Baloch separatists, allegedly inciting speeches by MQM chief Altaf Hussain and funding to the HuT in Pakistan.

About Altaf’s extradition, senior interior ministry officials said it was most unlikely that Pakistan would ask the UK government to hand him over.

Moreover, the interior minister has clarified that it was a ‘coincidence’ that his meeting with Barton was scheduled on a day when the MQM chief’s bail expired. “The meeting was not related to Altaf’s detention.”

Regarding reports of Nisar briefing Barton on the Imran Farooq murder case, the minister said: “I did not brief him nor will I brief any other ambassador. I did not provide him with any documents either, as that is beyond the scope of my duties.”

In response to queries related to Imran Farooq’s murder and the MQM chief’s money-laundering case, Georgina Barker, Press Officer at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told The Express Tribune in an email: “This is a matter for the Metropolitan Police. The Metropolitan Police and its investigations are operationally independent of the British government. The Police take all allegations of crime extremely seriously and will take appropriate action where there is evidence a crime has been committed.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2015.

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