ISLAMABAD  -  A convicted child sex offender was arrested in Punjab following a joint UK and Pakistan operation, a British High Commission statement said on Thursday.

Choudhry Ikhlaq Hussain was arrested during a joint operation between Federal Investigation Agency, the Punjab Police and the UK’s National Crime Agency, in Sangla City in Punjab last week, the statement added.

In 2016, Hussain was sentenced in the UK to 19 years imprisonment for serious sexual offences against a child. Hussain was found guilty of three counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of rape and one count of conspiracy to rape. This followed a long running Greater Manchester Police investigation – named Operation Doublet – which looked into the sexual exploitation of teenage girls in Rochdale.

Hussain fled to Pakistan during the trial, but was found guilty in absentia. The UK had been working closely with Pakistan’s authorities since 2017 to secure his arrest and extradition, the statement said.

Hussain’s arrest is a further operational success for UK-Pakistan justice and accountability partnership established during the British Home Secretary’s visit to Pakistan in September 2018. The partnership includes a renewed commitment to tackle the shared threats of organised crime and international criminality between our two countries.

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew CMG said: “The arrest of this individual, who has been convicted of sexual offences by a British court, is a significant achievement, and another excellent example of UK-Pakistan cooperation in tackling international criminality and impunity. It sends a clear message that Pakistan is not a safe haven for international criminals.”

He added: “I would like to thank the FIA and the Punjab Police for their professionalism and dedication in the execution of this operation. Choudhry Ikhalaq Hussain’s case will now go to courts, who will decide whether to approve his extradition to the UK. In October 2018, Shahid Mohammad, an individual wanted in connection with the murder of five children and three adults, was successfully extradited to the UK.”

Hussain was born in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. British Home Secretary Sajid Javid visited Pakistan during 17-18 September 2018.

During his visit, the Home Secretary agreed a new justice and accountability partnership to help Pakistan and the UK tackle the shared threats posed by serious and organised crime and international criminality. The partnership has strengthened collaboration and delivered a number of outcomes. This includes the extradition in October 2018 of Shahid Muhammad – wanted in the UK for murder of 5 children and 3 adults.

It also includes the signing in December 2018 of a prisoner transfer agreement.  This was signed by the British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and Pakistan Interior Secretary Azam Suleman Khan.