“We have an extradition treaty with the US,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said at a media briefing.
The US-Pakistan accord has roots in a US-UK treaty of 1932, which was then applicable to all colonial territories. Pakistan inherited it after coming into existence in 1947 and subsequently through a notification in February 1973 the US was included among the countries with which it had the treaty.
The spokesman in a briefing earlier this month had referred to the arrangement between British India and the US as the basis for delivering criminals, but denied the existence of a formal treaty.
In the past Pakistan put aside extradition procedures while surrendering terrorists Ramzi Yousef and Mir Aimal Kasi, giving an impression that the two countries lacked a formal agreement.
Former president Gen Pervez Musharraf had also turned down a US request for extradition of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was wanted in the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl. In 2001, Pakistan sought extradition of former Navy chief Admiral Mansoorul Haq from the US on the basis of the 1932 treaty. But Mr Haq returned voluntarily after extradition proceedings began.
The arrest in December of five Americans in Sargodha has kicked up a debate on the existence or otherwise of such an agreement. Experts believe that the case pertained to repatriation, and not extradition, because they were not involved in any criminal activity in the US.
Sources said reverting to the treaty at this juncture could be aimed at adding credence to Islamabad's demand for extradition of former Punjab Bank chief Hamesh Khan, wanted in a Rs9 billion fraud case.
A spokesman for the US Embassy, Richard Snelsire, said “We don't have an extradition treaty with independent Pakistan.”
Recalling that a treaty existed between British India and the US, he said it was up to the Pakistan government to interpret.
INDIA In a recap of foreign policy developments in 2009, Mr Basit accused India of dragging its feet on normalising ties with Pakistan despite the Sharm el Shiekh summit, where the two sides had agreed to de-link the suspended composite dialogue from progress on terror.
“Sharm el Sheikh summit was a significant development. Unfortunately, India continues refusing to move forward. The ball is now in India's court,” he added.
Criticising the Indian army chief's statement that his men were ready to fight China and Pakistan simultaneously, Mr Basit said it reflected hostile intent as well as hegemonic and jingoistic mindset.
He cautioned India against underestimating Pakistan's capability and determination to foil designs against its security.