Pakistani requests for repatriation will be considered on merit: UK envoy

ISLAMABAD: The British government will consider requests made by the Pakistan authorities for repatriation of those accused in money laundering cases on merit, United Kingdom’s High Commissioner Thomas Drew said on Tuesday.

He was responding to a question at a lecture on ‘Pakistan-UK Relations in view of Post Brexit Foreign Policy’ at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI).

Commenting on a part of the question concerning former finance minister Ishaq Dar and sons of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who face accountability references in Pakistan, Mr Drew maintained that he couldn’t comment on specific cases.

Appreciating Pakistan’s efforts regarding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the UK high commissioner said Pakistan had done very well in the last five months. Keeping in view this progress, the UK government had offered technical assistance to the PTI-led government to meet the FATF criteria for removal from the grey-list.

On Pakistan-India relations and the Kashmir dispute, the British envoy said, “It is in the interest of Pakistan, India and the world to resolve all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. This will lead the region towards peace and stability.”

Replying to a question, he said the UK shared Pakistani authorities’ vision for a peaceful and prosperous country, adding that major focus should be laid on collaboration in economy and education sectors. He assured the gathering that Britain’s interests would continue to remain tied-up with Pakistan’s long-term stability and security.

The British envoy said that despite Brexit (a term used for Britain’s exit from the European Union), the UK’s commitment to world security would not change and the NATO would remain the cornerstone of British foreign policy.

On another question, he said UK’s relationship with Pakistan was non-discretionary and was focused on Pakistan to unleash its potential in diverse areas including economic growth, education, and water preservation.

On a question about international media’s coverage of Pakistan, the British top diplomat admitted that it was not always fair and stressed the need for balance in it.

Published in Daily Times, September 5th 2018.