September 17, 2018: The governments of Pakistan and the United Kingdom on Monday jointly launched a partnership on repatriation of illicit finances, recovery of stolen assets and putting a check on money-laundering.
Law Minister Barrister Farogh Nasim and British Home Secretary Sajid Javid at a joint press conference here at the PM Office announced that the declaration titled 'UK-Pakistan Justice and Accountability Partnership' would track corruption and also restart the bilateral prisoner transfer that was on a halt for last several years.
British Secretary Sajid Javid said the United Kingdom would ensure that no person could escape accountability. He, however, clarified that the initiative would be broad-based and was not meant to target individual cases only.
He said the new partnership would be headed by a special envoy to expand cooperation between the two sides in curbing corruption. The Director of Economic Crime Unit would be representing the British side, he added.
The British Home Secretary, who is the first from his government to visit Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed the office, said the UK was committed to strengthen ties with the new government and reaffirm their partnership.
Sajid Javid termed his talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan as constructive and said he fully endorsed his vision of building a prosperous Pakistan.
To a question, the Home Secretary rejected the impression that the UK was reluctant on issues of extradition-related matters with Pakistan and said he was mindful of respecting the domain of British law enforcement agencies. However, he stressed that the responsible would be brought to justice whenever there was some evidence.
Asked about the quantum of money laundering, the British Secretary said both the sides reviewed their commitments on sharing evidence to prosecute the criminals.
As regards the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Sajid Javid said Pakistan was already working on the matter and the UK would extend all support to it in that regard.
He said his country would deepen cooperation with Pakistan to counter illicit finances and corruption.
About the role and sacrifices of Pakistan against counter-terrorism, he said Pakistan had suffered more than any other country on that count.
He said Pakistan and the United Kingdom had deep ties in many areas. Some 120 British companies were already working here. Being a major trading partner, the UK would like its more companies to enter Pakistan as it was preparing to leave the European Union, he added.
Law Minister Farogh Naseem said both the sides also deliberated on the formation of a joint fund on civil recovery of stolen assets, and appointment of a prosecution service at the British High Commission.
He said it was also agreed upon to ensure capacity-building of Pakistani law enforcement officials with the assistance of the United Kingdom.
When questioned on the issue of confiscation of Avenfield apartments of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the Law Minister said, “No individual cases or any specific matter was discussed.”
When about deliberations on the extradition of two sons of the former prime minister, Farogh Naseem said he was unable to share more details.
Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability, on the same issue said the matter was already with the National Accountability Bureau. Individual cases would not be commented upon, he added.
Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Khan Afridi and British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew were also present on the occasion.