Pakistan and UK to boost joint efforts to tackle transnational crimes

Lord Tariq Ahmad Sheikh Rasheed
UK’s Minister of State for South Asia Lord Tariq Ahmad meets Pakistan’s Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed to discuss bilateral issues on June 23 in Islamabad. Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Pakistan and UK have agreed to strengthen coordination to improve the capacity of criminal justice systems and extend support to combat transnational crimes.

The understanding was reported following a meeting between Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed and UK’s Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmad during his two-day (June 22-23) visit to Pakistan.

The two sides “agreed to strengthen coordination between Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior and the UK’s Home Office to improve the ability of the law enforcement and criminal justice systems in both the countries,” the official statement said. The two ministers “stressed to work together and support each other in their joint efforts in tackling transnational crimes.” International cooperation is key to address criminal justice challenges posed by new forms of transnational crimes and terrorism.

Sheikh Rasheed and Lord Ahmad also agreed to “enhance coordination” in realising agreements of Pakistan-UK Returns Arrangements and the Extradition Treaty between the two countries. The extradition process enables governments to bring fugitives abroad to justice.

Pakistani interior minister said Pakistan has signed extradition treaties with a number of countries and was keen to sign a similar agreement with the UK at the earliest. “Efforts should be geared up from both sides to get the extradition treaty finalised soon as this would improve the processes needed to extradite criminals from the UK to Pakistan” he said. The draft of the treaty is ready to be approved by the cabinet.

The two ministers also exchanged views on ways to further strengthen relations by enhancing people-to-people contact and cooperation in the field of security, trade and culture. The 1.6 million Pakistani diaspora in the UK will further cement this relationship, Rasheed said.

The British minister said that Pakistan and the UK enjoy deep-rooted relations reinforced by strong people-to-people contacts. “A strong partnership between Pakistan and the UK remains important in promoting and sustaining peace, security and stability in the wider region.” Lord Ahmad said that the UK was looking forward to the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, the visit scheduled for next month has been postponed for now.

UK’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner and additional secretaries of the Interior Ministry Sher Alam and Iftikhar Shalvani also attended the meeting. Lord Ahmad presented a letter of intent from the UK government seeking further cooperation in various areas of mutual interest.

During his two-day visit, Lord Ahmad met with the Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as key ministers and provincial leaders including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, and Punjab governor and chief minister.

The visit was “focused on the UK and Pakistan’s friendship to build back greener to protect our world against climate change, build back better with more prosperity for both countries, build back safer to protect communities from COVID-19”, and expand cooperation in ensuring education for girls.

“My visit to Pakistan has reinforced just how important it is to work together to tackle the threat of climate change, to prevent a pandemic like COVID-19 from happening again, and to help our children catch up with lost learning, especially girls. No country can work in isolation. Global challenges do not respect borders” Lord Ahmad said.