By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: Saifur Rehman, former chairman of the Ehtesab Bureau, is 'hiding' in a foreign country, and as is believed, so is his brother Mujibur Rehman. Same goes for former inspector-general of police Rana Maqbool Ahmed. The three, who appear to have personal grudges against President Asif Ali Zardari, are hounded by Pakistani agencies.
They are among the list of those 215 accused who absconded abroad to avoid the judicial process against them. All of them have their red warrants issued by the Interpol, but their extradition to Pakistan continues to be an elusive project.
During his time as chief of the now defunct Ehtesab Bureau, Saifur Rehman had reportedly unleashed a storm of political vendetta against the Pakistan Peoples Party during Nawaz Sharif’s second tenure as premier. His brother, Mujib, used to head the Pakistan Cricket Board at the time.
Moreover, Maqbool, a former inspector-general Sindh police, had been tasked to arrest General (retd) Pervez Musharraf when the latter was expected to land in Karachi on October 12, 1999. Also, it was reportedly Maqbool who had authorised the torture of Zardari during the latter’s detention in the late 1990s.
As the three remain absconding, the performance of authorities tasked with ensuring their extradition leaves much to be desired.
During the last four years, only 28 Pakistanis were extradited to Pakistan from foreign countries. Among these, three high profile accused were the former president of Bank of Punjab, Hamesh Khan, and owners of Harris Steel Mills, Sheikh Muhammad Afzal and Harris Afzal.
An FIA list reveals that many of the accused who were brought back to Pakistan were hiding in Gulf states.
“The United States did Pakistan a great favour by extraditing Hamesh Khan, despite the fact that there is no formal agreement of such an exchange between the two countries,” a senior official dealing with the Interpol told Dawn.com.
Among the 28 extradited accused, 12 were arrested and sent back to Pakistan by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates, which also does not have an extradition treaty with Pakistan.
It is the same legal hitch which seems to have deterred the return of former Ogra chairman, Tauqir Sadiq, who is wanted in Pakistan in a multi-billion rupees scam, from Abu Dhabi.
Similarly, the owners of Harris Steel Mills were extradited from Malaysia — another country with no extradition treaty with Pakistan.
The official explained that Pakistan has an extradition treaty with around 30 Asian and African countries. “The European countries refused to reach any such understanding with Pakistan because they already have abolished capital punishment in their respective states. And they fear that the prisoner who they would extradite to Pakistan may end up facing the death penalty.”
When asked to comment on the significance of the red warrants, the official said that among European Union countries, the accused can be arrested immediately after the warrants are issued against them. The United States and the European Union have similar arrangements for the purpose, he said, adding that things become completely different if the request is made from a country like Pakistan.
To a question, the official said the Interpol had never issued red warrants against Musharraf. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) did approach the Interpol in this regard, but failed to convince the international agency.
Tariq Khosa, Pakistan’s representative at the Interpol headquarter, said he was working closely with the international agency to bring the absconders back. However, he refused to share details of the arrangements terming them of a sensitive nature.
Those extradited: Imran Nazir, Khurshid Gujjar, Sial Khan, Enayatullah, Muhammad Said Khan, Liaquatullah Raza Khan, Shahbaz Saqib, Siddique Chaudhry, Muhammad Amjad Khan, Imran Ahmed Zuberi, Muhammad Nawaz, Ehsan Jamil, Ahmed Khan, Hidayatullah, Hayatullah, Rohullah, Wajid Sajjad, Kashif Sajjad, Naseem Malik Muhammad Yousuf, Qaiser Majeed, Kazim Khan Sudair, Muhammad Khan Sudair, Shahbaz Hassain, Muhammad Saleem, Hamesh Khan, Harris Afzal and Sheikh Muhammad Afzal
Absconders facing red warrants: Rameez Afzal Sindhu, Falk Sher Jatt Cheema, Amir Ranjha, Mudasar Ahmed Butt, Mubashar Ahmed Butt, Umer Farooq Chand Butt, Muhammad Asad Kamran, Muhammad Sharif Malik, Muhammad Shabir Malik, Ashfaq Ahmed Rana, Khurram Shahzad Bajwa, Muhammad Ashraf Bajwa, Sufi Hassan Elahi, Sufi Ikram Elahi, Sufi Ahsan Elahi, Sufi Mohsin Elahi and others
— The writer is a freelance contributor