Pak-UK MoU for Ishaq Dar’s extradition promises “fair trial”

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LONDON: A memorandum of understanding signed between Pakistan and the United Kingdom for the extradition of former finance minister Ishaq Dar promises the “right to a fair trial,” the document which was released to media last week said.

Ishar Dar is a close aide and family member of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the jailed head of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party. He has been living in self-exile in London since October 2017 and was charged in absentia by a Pakistani anti-corruption court for amassing wealth beyond his known sources of income.

“[This MoU] records the understandings which have been reached for the extradition of Ishaq Dar to the jurisdiction of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” reads the extradition document, dated May 24, and signed in London by Pakistan’s Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability, Shahzad Akbar and Graeme Biggar, Director General of the UK’s National Economic Crime Centre.

The document says Dar would have the “right to a fair trial, including the right to adjudication by an impartial tribunal.”

According to a media report, Ishaq Dar told media this week that he had visited the UK Home Office on June 18 and lodged a protest saying the cases against him were politically motivated and he would not get justice under Pakistan’s current government.

In comments to media persons at the Pakistan High Commission last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Dar would get a fair trial, adding that Pakistan was ready to revoke the capital punishment for Pakistani nationals extradited from other countries – a major demand of the UK where the death penalty is banned.

“We are amending the Pakistan Penal Code to revoke capital punishment for the accused, who will be brought back to the country under extradition treaties with other countries,” Qureshi said.

Qureshi’s announcement came just a day after a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London, where Hunt declared that the UK would not sign “politically-motivated” extradition treaties with any country.

According to the contents of the MoU, Ishaq Dar’s extradition rests on the guarantee that he will be solely tried on genuine criminal offenses if handed over to Pakistan. But legal experts say they doubt extradition will materialize.