ISLAMABAD: A British national, convicted of sexual offences by a British court, was arrested in Pakistan during a joint operation carried out by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Punjab Police and the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom.
A British High Commission press release on Thursday said Choudhry Ikhlaq Hussain was arrested during the joint operation in Sangla on Jan 26.
Hussain, 41, of Pakistani origin was sentenced in the UK to 19 years’ imprisonment for serious sexual offences against a child in 2016. He was found guilty on three counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of rape and one count of conspiracy to rape. This followed a long-running Greater Manchester Police investigation — named ‘Operation Doublet’ — which looked into the sexual exploitation of teenage girls in Rochdale.
Hussain fled to Pakistan during the trial, but was found guilty in absentia. The UK has been working closely with Pakistan’s authorities since 2017 to secure his arrest and extradition.
Courts will decide whether or not he should be extradited to UK
Hussain’s arrest is a further operational success for the UK-Pakistan justice and accountability partnership established during the British home secretary’s visit to Pakistan in September last year. The partnership includes a renewed commitment to tackle the shared threats of organised crime and international criminality between our two countries.
Hussain’s case will now go to courts, which will decide whether to approve his extradition to the UK, the press release further stated.
On the successful joint operation, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, said that “the arrest of this individual, who has been convicted of sexual offences by a British court, is a significant achievement, and another excellent example of UK-Pakistan cooperation in tackling international criminality and impunity. It sends a clear message that Pakistan is not a safe haven for international criminals.”
The British ambassador thanked FIA and the Punjab Police for their professionalism and dedication in the execution of this operation.
It is worth mentioning here that British Home Secretary Sajid Javid visited Pakistan in September, and during his visit, he agreed on a new justice and accountability partnership to help Pakistan and the UK tackle the shared threats posed by serious and organised crime and international criminality.
The partnership has strengthened collaboration and delivered a number of outcomes. This includes the extradition in October 2018 of Shahid Mohammad — wanted in the UK for the murder of five children and three adults, the press release said.
It also includes the signing in December 2018 of an updated prisoner transfer agreement. This was signed by British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and Pakistan Interior Secretary Azam Suleman Khan. The updated agreement gives prisoners the opportunity to serve their sentence closer to home, and allows them to prepare for their reintegration into their home community when they are eventually released from prison.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2019