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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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Pakistan, UK extradition treaty

The signing of an extradition treaty for convicts between Pakistan and the United Kingdom (UK) is on the cards. Both states have agreed to sign agreements for repatriation of convicted citizens and criminals sentenced by relevant courts. What will be the outcome of this development? First, it will likely end in an impasse causing hurdles in the repatriation of criminals who evaded punishment by fleeing the country. The government was also in a hurry to finalise the extradition treaty for bringing back former premier Mian Nawaz Sharif from UK who was found guilty in a corruption reference by an accountability court and sentenced to prison for 10 years in December 2018.

Presently, Pakistan has had multiple extradition treaties with various countries, including the UK, UAE, Sri Lanka, Spain, Thailand, Ecuador, etc. However, the status of these treaties has been questioned by both the Pakistan and foreign governments due to the failing criminal justice system in Pakistan and the illegal early release of extradited convicts through the falsification of documents by government officials. Nevertheless, it is true that there are several convicts both in Pakistan and UK, who for one reason or the other crossed the border and there remains no mechanism for their repatriation. The treaty was needed as the convicts were taking benefit of this lack of understanding between both countries.

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Cooperation on the international level must be welcome to deal with criminals. But at the same time, it should not be exploited for political victimisation. It is a fact that political leaders are victimized on political grounds and sentenced due to faulty justice system. All of this necessitates a proper mechanism through which all of these cases can be dealt with. This would require both Pakistani and UK governments to work together so that a proper channel of communication can be opened. Needless to say, they would have to be willing to address each other’s concerns for this to work. At the same time, the legal, prison and criminal justice systems need to be restructured as a whole to ensure transparency and prevent the escape of dangerous criminals.

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