The government has stopped enforcing on the agreements with other countries for exchange of convicted criminals after many high-profile extradited prisoners were illegally freed in Pakistan with the help of federal and provincial authorities. The unusual decision may halt transfer of around 3,000 convicted prisoners from 30 countries.
“Pakistan has stopped exchanging convicted prisoners with all countries under the agreement for exchange of prisoners,” said Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday. This halt will continue until Pakistan formulates a new policy pertaining to transfer of prisoners with other countries, he said in a brief official statement.
The decision was taken in light of the findings which revealed that many prisoners were released illegally with the connivance of Ministry of Interior and provincial home departments in the past many years, it reads.
Many times Pakistan faced diplomatic embarrassment on such issues, said officials of ministries of interior and foreign affairs, adding that these high-profile prisoners were transferred from countries with whom Islamabad has extradition treaties, since 2008.
The latest move directly linked to re-arrest of an escaped prisoner, Rizwan Habib Alvi, who was convicted by a British court in February 2004 for murdering a man in the United Kingdom, a senior official of the ministry of interior said.
Alvi with other prisoners was transferred to Pakistan under an agreement signed with the UK in 2010 to complete the rest of his sentence, but was fraudulently released weeks after being brought to Pakistan, he recalled. After his acquittal, the UK government abolished the agreement but it has been restored with Islamabad’s efforts, he added.
Foreign Office (FO) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have been directed to stop working on such issues, the official said, adding that we have also directed provincial police and FIA to prepare data of such prisoners by fixing responsibility of officials involved in such practices.
At present, Pakistan has exchange of prisoner treaties with some 30 countries including the US, Australia, Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, the UAE, Italy, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yugoslavia, an official of the foreign office said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2015.
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