The simmering tensions between India and Pakistan over the latter’s role in terrorism in India may be heading towards a resolution. There is talk of the possibility of a face-saving and tension-reducing move by Pakistan to transfer custody of some individuals wanted by India to the custody of the United Kingdom. According to sources in the Indian government discussion of this measure has increased following British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit to the Indian subcontinent where he asked for cooperation from both India and Pakistan to assist the United Kingdom in its terror inquiries.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had reportedly turned down Brown’s request for a chance for British security agencies to interview suspects in Pakistan. But with tensions between India and Pakistan showing no signs of receding sources say there is increasing speculation that Pakistan and the UK may be considering the idea of extraditing certain individuals to the UK to satisfy India’s immediate concerns.
“There is an idea that Pakistan could send people like Dawood Ibrahim off to the United Kingdom to face charges there. Dawood is also suspected to be involved in offences in the United Kingdom. This would be a face-saving measure for Pakistan and India would probably be satisfied for now, that at least some movement on its demands is happening,” said the source, adding, “The UK would find it easier to ask for Dawood, even though Pakistan does not acknowledge his presence on their soil because Dawood is a global terrorist and is also wanted by Interpol. Others like Masood Azhar and Hafeez Saeed might not attract the same kind of attention, even though Pakistan had placed them under house arrest.”
The US government had declared Dawood Ibrahim a global terrorist in 2003 and imposed sanctions against him. Indian intelligence agencies believe him to be residing in Karachi under the protection of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
“Once Dawood and perhaps even others have been transferred to the custody of the UK, India can see if it can get custody of these people from the British,” added the source. India and the UK have an extradition treaty that was signed in 1992.
“Right now the focus is on defusing the tensions between the two countries. So if Pakistan does this, things would become easier to deal with it,” the source said. Pakistan has earlier extradited suspects to the United Kingdom wanted for offences committed there. The source has also pointed out that in the absence of any positive movement on the part of Pakistan to defuse tensions, the alliance of the United States and the United Kingdom could act on India’s behalf.
“The US did this in the First Gulf War as well. When Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles against Israel, the US took out targets in Iraq that were important to Israel, to prevent Israel from reacting and launching an attack on Iraq. The US has been using unmanned aerial vehicles to launch attacks against Taliban targets in Pakistan. If required they could be pressured to do the same against targets that are of significance to India,” said the source.