ISLAMABAD, Feb 1: Pakistan on Thursday informed Britain that Rashid Rauf, a main accused of London terror plot, could not be handed over to it till his case, being tried in Pakistan, was decided, interior ministry sources say.

This was conveyed to an eight-member UK delegation led by William Nye, director of Counter Terrorism and Intelligence at the British Home Office, during a meeting with Pakistan’s top security officials held here to finalise the singing of a treaty to form a joint working group (JWG).

“Rashid Rauf is also an accused in a case being tried in Pakistan, and according to the law of the country, he cannot be handed over to the UK unless the case is decided,” a senior official of the ministry told Dawn.

The official said Pakistan had also demanded extradition of six wanted persons currently living in the UK, including Ramzan Khokhar, a builder of Margalla Tower which partly collapsed during the October 8, 2005 earthquake in Islamabad, killing 72 people, his wife Kehkashan Ramzan and exiled leaders of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

Rashid Rauf, a Pakistani-born UK national and a principal accused in an alleged plot of blowing up trans-Atlantic airlines, was arrested in August 2006.

On December 13 last year, an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi had dropped against Rashid an allegation that he was carrying a liquid which was used in the manufacture of explosives and terrorist attacks, and now his case is being tried in the Lahore High Court and a local court in Rawalpindi.

During the meeting, Pakistan’s side led by Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, additional secretary of interior, presented the UK delegation a draft of the treaty to be signed by the two countries to form the JWG and jointly counter terrorism, organised crimes, radicalisation, human trafficking, cyber crimes, drug smuggling and illegal immigration.

The draft has been recently approved by the federal cabinet and now the UK side would sent it to the British authorities for approval. “If it is also approved by the UK authorities, then the two sides will meet again to formally sign the treaty,” the official said.

Responding to a question about the extradition treaty, he said the agreement did not cover the extradition side as a separate treaty for this respect was being finalised between the two countries.

He said the UK delegation was apprised of the measures being taken by Pakistan to stop illegal migration and human smuggling. The delegation appreciated the introduction of Machine Readable Passport, Computerized National Identity Cards and border security system in Pakistan.

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