Monday, 18 October 2021

UK-Pakistan partner against money-laundering

ISLAMABAD: The United Kingdom and Pakistan on Monday launched a partnership to track corruption and restart the bilateral transfer of prisoners.

During a joint news conference here, Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem and British Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the ‘UK-Pakistan Justice and Accountability Partnership’ would work towards repatriation of illicit finances, recovery of stolen assets and putting a check on money laundering. Sajid Javid said his country would ensure that no person could escape accountability, clarifying that the initiative would be broad-based and was not mean 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.

Sajid Javid, 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.

To a question, the British home secretary rejected the impression that the UK was reluctant on extradition-related matters with Pakistan and said he was mindful of respecting the domain of British law enforcement agencies.

However, he stressed those 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.

Javid 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 are already working here. Being a major trading partner, the UK would like its more companies to enter Pakistan, as it is 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 the 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.

Javid said he also spoke on an exchange of prisoners between Pakistan and UK during his meetings with authorities.

The British home secretary said in his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, the issue of money laundering was discussed.

During the news conference, they were asked why the UK government did not hand over to Pakistan former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons Hassan and Hussain and former finance minister Ishaq Dar despite their red warrants. Responding, Farogh Naseem said they had not discussed matters pertaining to any specific individual.

Responding to a question about Dar’s repatriation, Naseem said the agreement had a vast scope and was not drafted for a single person.

He said the agreement would help in bringing back the money that was embezzled in Pakistan and transferred to foreign bank accounts.

Earlier in the day, the British home secretary also met with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The two sides discussed various areas of regional and bilateral cooperation particularly regional security, counter-terrorism, organised crime, migration, human trafficking, money laundering, and asset recovery.

Qureshi emphasised the need for translating the existing ties into a tangible and multi-faceted strategic partnership.

He appreciated the UK Department for International Development’s contribution towards the development of socio-economic sectors in Pakistan.

The British home secretary conveyed his government’s desire to support and work closely with the new government in all areas of mutual interest.

The two countries closely cooperate under the institutional framework of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue.

Secretary Sajid Javid also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and exchanged views on matters of bilateral interest.

Imran expressed satisfaction over the current direction of bilateral relations of the two countries and hoped that the both would further strengthen this into a multi-faceted strategic partnership.

He acknowledged the UK’s development assistance that had positively impacted Pakistan’s socio-economic sectors.

They also discussed a wide range of issues of common interest, including counter terrorism, organised crime, human trafficking, and money laundering and asset recovery.

Javid said his government was willing to support and extend full cooperation to the Government of Pakistan in these areas.

He also underscored the need for enhanced cooperation in all areas of mutual interest. Sajid Javid will also visit Lahore.

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