ISLAMABAD: After former prime minister Nawaz Sharif delivered a fiery speech against the government at the opposition’s multiparty conference via a video link from London on Sunday, the government is considering asking the British government to hand over the PML-N supreme leader to Pakistan in an exchange for some wanted persons, according to a cabinet member.
Speaking to reporters after attending the hearing of a case related to enforced disappearances in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar said the government had constituted a high-level committee to resolve the issue of missing persons.
He said the committee would examine effectiveness of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances headed by retired Justice Javed Iqbal, who is also chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Responding to a question about extradition of the PML-N supreme leader, Mr Akbar said that the case of Nawaz Sharif was different from those of other proclaimed offenders, including Hussain and Hassan Nawaz and Ishaq Dar. He said that Mr Sharif was a convict and he could not be treated on a par with the runaway accused persons.
Committee formed to resolve issue of missing persons
Mr Akbar admitted that there was no extradition treaty between Pakistan and the United Kingdom. But, he added, since Pakistan had already handed over some accused persons to the British authorities and some more requests were pending, the government might demand custody of Mr Sharif in reciprocation.
“It would be difficult for the British government if Nawaz Sharif being a convict continues to stay in the UK, their own laws do not permit such an act,” he added.
He said both Pakistan and British governments were about to sign an accord on extradition, but due to the spread of Covid-19 it had to be postponed.
In reply to a question about the opposition’s demand to investigate the offshore assets of Chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the PM’s adviser said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking an investigation into the assets of prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The opposition might approach the National Accountability Bureau or other any appropriate forum for seeking investigation into Mr Bajwa’s assets, he said.
Referring to the allegations levelled by Mr Sharif against Mr Bajwa for conspiring against the PML-N government in Balochistan to sabotage the election of the Senate chairman, Mr Akbar said that Mr Sharif should look around himself before levelling allegations against others.
According to him, Mr Sharif’s ally Asif Ali Zardari was also involved in the fall of the PML-N government in Balochistan.
Earlier, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah sought a report from Mr Akbar on the government’s efforts to end enforced disappearances and restore law and order in the federal capital.
Justice Minallah, while taking up petitions related to disappearance of an official of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Sajid Gondal, enforcement of Police Order and the mushroom growth of private housing societies of law enforcement agencies, reminded Mr Akbar that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the federal cabinet were responsible for maintaining law and order within the federal capital.
He said that being a close aide to PM Khan, Mr Akbar should have brought facts to the federal cabinet and suggested measures to protect citizens.
Justice Minallah expressed reservations over the poor standard of investigation, saying that it is alarming that the government pays Rs350 per investigation to police officers. He pointed out that there was no prosecution department in the federal capital, adding that this was the reason that the criminal justice system is not delivering in a proper manner.
Mr Akbar briefed the court on the steps taken by the federal government to ensure law and order in the federal capital. He sought three-week time to submit a report to the court.
The hearing was adjourned till Oct 19.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2020