Government to once again request the British government to extradite PMLN leader
Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a meeting of the federal cabinet, on Tuesday directed officials concerned to use all available legal means to repatriate Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif from London.
According to lawmakers who attended the meeting, the government has tasked the Foreign Office and the Federal Investigation Agency with bringing Sharif back to Pakistan. They said that a fresh letter would be written to the British government for Sharif’s return, adding that even though Pakistan has no formal extradition treaty with the U.K., “special” arrangements could be made.
The cabinet decision came a day prior to an Islamabad High Court hearing on Sharif’s petitions in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield Properties references. In its last hearing, the court had directed the government to provide the process by which it planned to fulfill the warrants for the arrest of Sharif, who has been out of the country since November 2019 on medical grounds.
Local media reported that the prime minister also formed a committee comprising several senior cabinet members to respond to the opposition’s calls for a protest campaign to oust the government. However, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Geo News that while a group of lawmakers were directed to respond “effectively” to the opposition’s statements, no “formal” committee had been established.
The cabinet was briefed on the country’s debt and repayment measures during fiscal years 2018-20. Lawmakers learnt the incumbent government is spending around $10 billion per annum for debt repayment and that the primary surplus until March 2020 had stood at Rs. 20 billion before it was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also informed that the government has taken various measures during the last two years regarding loans, including declining the primary deficit, stabilizing exchange rate, improving the quality and nature of domestic debt, improving the nature of foreign debt, and introducing new products regarding loans.
Odds and ends
The cabinet meeting also approved a new visa policy for Afghanistan to coincide with the visit to Pakistan of High Council for National Reconciliation Chairman Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Under this policy, visa processes for Afghan nationals would be made easier; Afghan students in Pakistan would be able to apply for long-term visas; and special “medical visas” would be available at the Torkham border crossing.
The meeting permitted British airline Virgin Atlantic to commence direct flights between Pakistan and the U.K. and also granted a one-time, pre-shipment inspection of ships coming to Pakistan with stocks of wheat.
The cabinet was also briefed on irregularities in the installation of telemetry system for “fair” distribution of water under the Indus River System Authority. It decided to appoint new IRSA members, as those from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan have completed their terms, while Punjab has asked to reassess the capability of its member. It also approved an audit of IRSA affairs, and allowed amendments to be made to its laws.
The cabinet meeting, in line with the Pakistan Medical Commission Act 2020, approved the appointment of Dr. Arshad Taqi and Ali Raza as president and vice president of the Medical and Dental Council, respectively. The appointment of Syed Hussain Abdi as chairman of the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research was also approved.