Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked his party leaders to devise a legal strategy to bring back former premier Nawaz Sharif from the UK as in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries it would be difficult to get him extradited, according to a media report.
Presiding over the first meeting of a committee recently formed to counter the Opposition, Prime Minister Khan on Friday asked Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders to foil all moves of the Opposition aimed at destabilising the government and “maligning" the Army, the Dawn News reported.
The government had earlier sent a request to the British government for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader’s repatriation to ensure that he faces the corruption cases pending against him in the courts.
Sharif has been living in London since November last year when he was allowed to go there for medical treatment. His recent speeches targeting the army for political interference has apparently unnerved the Imran Khan government.
A source privy to the meeting told Dawn that the prime minister was committed to bringing back Sharif from London and directed the committee members to devise a legal strategy because in the absence of an extradition treaty between Pakistan and the UK, it would become difficult to get him extradited. The committee comprises federal ministers Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Shafqat Mahmood and Pervez Khattak.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar had earlier said that he had written fresh letters to the British authorities for Sharif’s repatriation, adding that a formal application has also been sent for his extradition. The adviser was of the view that though both countries have no extradition treaty, wanted people could be handed over to each other under special arrangement.
On September 15, the Islamabad High Court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Sharif who failed to surrender before it despite clear warning by the bench. The court said the onus was on the federal government to bring back Sharif from London to stand a trial in Pakistan. During the meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Khan vowed to defeat the Opposition’s designs and defend state institutions, including the Army.
Enemies of the army are in fact enemies of Pakistan, the prime minister said. The opposition leaders have a problem with the Army, and that is why their corruption is being traced, he said.
Sharif wants to bring people on to the streets while he and his children are sitting in London, he said, alleging that the former prime minister wanted institutions to protect his interests. Sharif in a televised speech from exile in London on Thursday accused the country’s powerful military of political interference, saying that the military had rigged the 2018 vote that brought Khan to power.
The Sharif has had a long uneasy relationship with the military, with Thursday’s tirade the latest confrontation. Sharif served as Pakistan’s prime minister three times, first removed by a president in 1993, then by military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 1999. A court in 2017 ousted him from power over corruption allegations. Khan, a former cricketer, came to power in 2018.
Pakistan’s opposition parties have vowed to hold rallies in October to pressure Khan to resign.