LONDON: The United Kingdom has said that there is no extradition treaty signed with Pakistan and the British government does not “shelter” or “harbour” anyone.
UK’s Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth stated this in a letter written to East Ham’s Labour MP Stephen Timms — who had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Office on 16 December to ask whether any arrangements were made to send back Nawaz Sharif.
Timms had forwarded a letter of his British Pakistani constituent Khalid Lodhi to the UK government’s headquarters.
Minister of State for South Asia Lord Tariq Ahmad, replying to Timms, noted that a charter flight to Pakistan had departed from the UK on December 2020, with 18 people aboard.
It is pertinent to mention here that Geo.tv had reported that Pakistani authorities had rejected the flight, however, the UK issued a legal action threat, after which it was allowed to land in the country.
The state minister, mentioning that he was unable to comment on individual cases — Nawaz Sharif’s extradition — but assured that the “UK government does not ‘shelter’ or ‘harbour’ anyone.”
“This means through which to seek formal UK Government assistance regarding the return of individuals to Pakistan is through the formal extradition process [sic].”
“The UK and Pakistan do not currently have an extradition treaty. Extraditions are still possible and have taken place, however, and if any extradition request were to be submitted through proper channels, it would be considered in line with the UK law,” Ahmad said.
The minister noted that officials from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office had recently responded directly to Khalid Lodhi’s letter.
The FCO’s Pakistan section had said: “We are aware that Mr Sharif is in the UK. The UK law sets out clearly and publicly what the Government can and cannot do on immigration matters, we act strictly in accordance with the rules on all sides. Mr Sharif’s status under Pakistani laws is a matter for the Pakistan government and legal system. As such, the non-bailable arrest warrants which have been served by the Pakistan High Commission in London have no legal bearing on his current status in the UK. The UK police cannot arrest someone in the UK on the basis of non-UK court orders.”
“Pakistan and Britain do not have an extradition treaty. However, extraditions are still possible and have taken place. If an extradition request were to be submitted through proper channels it would be considered in line with the UK laws,” the letter added.
Speaking to Geo.tv, Lodhi said that he had penned a letter to UK Home Minister Priti Patel and informed her of Sharif’s status. In the letter, he mentioned that the ex-premier had been “convicted in Pakistan”, had “absconded” and should be sent back “immediately”.
Lodhi’s letter said that Nawaz came to London for his medical treatment and has now stayed in the UK for more than a year and the UK government should send him back to Pakistan.
Moreover, he said that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had declared Nawaz a proclaimed offender in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references.
It is pertinent to mention here that after Timms wrote to 10 Downing Street, over a dozen Pakistanis from his constituency had signed a petition protesting that the MP should not get involved in Pakistani politics and that Nawaz had genuine reasons to stay in London.
The MP told this reporter that he only passed on his constituent’s letter to PM Boris Johnson and the letter didn’t carry his personal views.