Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has decided to call a halt to the extradition or exchange of convicts between Pakistan and other countries. Because under international law every nation has the sovereign right to prosecute and detain any individuals that break its laws, regardless of whether they are citizens, immigrants or non-resident aliens, extradition usually occurs through treaties between two countries, who agree to return each others convicts under special circumstances. 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. The Interior Ministers directive to suspend the extradition of convicts to Pakistan, ostensibly until these lapses can be rectified, followed reports of many such criminals being freed illegally, presumably through bribes, before the completion of their sentences.
Although there have been many instances of the bribery and manipulation of government officials for the release of criminals in the past, the government has now taken notice due to the untimely release of Rizwan Habib Alvi. He was arrested and sentenced in the UK for committing murder and identity theft after which he was returned to Pakistan to complete his 18 year sentence. He was recently arrested in Ecuador after fleeing Pakistan and brought back under another extradition treaty. Although the UK suspended its extradition treaty with Pakistan in 2012 after learning of Alvis escape, the government has done nothing to inquire into or rectify this problem until now.
The Interior Minister claims to have been made aware of these reports only recently and has vowed to punish both the escaped convicts and officials who have sullied Pakistans reputation in the international community. Many convicts have been returned to custody and Malik Ali Muhammad, a prison official responsible for doctoring evidence and producing fraudulent documents to free convicts has been arrested. While the governments efforts to address this issue are encouraging and have led to the restoration of the extradition treaty with the UK, it is baffling to see that politicians ignore government departments mired in corruption and incompetence until an event brings these issues under the international microscope. Simply suspending the return of Pakistani convicts is not enough. In fact, it suggests a lack of confidence in the state and possible improvement of the law enforcement system of the country. The legal, prison and criminal justice systems need to be restructured as a whole to ensure transparency and prevent the escape of dangerous criminals. *