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Saturday Jan 16 2021

'UK govt cannot arrest Nawaz on basis of Pakistani court's order'

  • UK govt says Pakistan and UK do not have an extradition agreement.
  • FCO explains reasons for not acting on Pakistani court orders. 
  • British MP Stephen Timms had asked the UK PM about the matter on behalf of a constituent

LONDON: The British government has said that it can not take action against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the basis of the non-bailable arrest warrants shared with the UK government by the Pakistan High Commission in London.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Pakistan and Afghan Department said this in response to a letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson by Labour MP Stephen Timms, on behalf of a Pakistani constituent.

“We are aware that Mr Sharif is in the UK. The UK law sets out clearly and publicly what the Government can and cannot do on immigration matters, we act strictly in accordance with the rules in all sides," said the FCO’s Pakistan section, in a letter.

“Mr Sharif’s status under Pakistani laws is a matter for the Pakistan government and legal system. As such, the non-bailable arrest warrants which have been served by the Pakistan High Commission in London have no legal bearing on his current status in the UK. The UK police cannot arrest someone in the UK on the basis of non-UK court orders,” said the letter.

The FCO clarified to the MP that both the countries do not currently have an extradition agreement but did acknowledge that such actions have been taken in the past. 

Read more: UK to decide on Nawaz extradition to Pakistan: PM Imran Khan's aide

"If any extradition request were to be submitted through the proper channels it would be considered in line with the UK laws,” said the FCO.

On the other hand, a source at UK PM Boris Johnson’s Office said that it received a letter from Mr Stephen Timms MP and forwarded it to the FCO to address the issue.

The source said that the PM was unable to act in this matter and had no authority and the FCO was the right forum to deal with such matters.

Responding to a question, Stephen Timms MP said: “I wrote to the Prime Minister about this, on behalf of a constituent, to ask what the Government’s approach was.”

Read more: UK refuses to help Pakistani govt execute Nawaz Sharif's arrest warrants

Stephen Timms had written to 10 Downing Street on 6 December 2020 asking PM Boris Johnson if any arrangements were made to send back Nawaz Sharif, ex-premier of Pakistan, on behalf of British Pakistani Khalid Lodhi.

The British MP in his letter had said that the UK was bound to send back the ex-prime minister of Pakistan.

Khalid Lodhi told this reporter that he had also written a letter to British Home Minister Priti Patel informing that Mr Sharif has been “convicted in Pakistan”, had “absconded” and should be sent back “immediately”.

The letter said that Nawaz Sharif came to London for his medical treatment and has now stayed in the UK for more than a year and the UK government should send him back to Pakistan.

The Islamabad High Court declared on December 02 former prime minister Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references.

Originally published in The News