ISLAMABAD - The government plans to bring back all Pakistanis living abroad who are facing “serious” charges of money laundering in the country, a top adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday. The government is trying to do this as nobody is above the law and everyone has to face the law in Pakistan, said Adviser to the PM on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan in an interview to The Nation.

He made these remarks a day after the Islamabad High Court directed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is staying in London on grounds of his medical treatment, to surrender to the authorities in Pakistan by September 10 or face legal proceedings.

Presently, former Finance Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ishaq Dar, besides other family members of former PM Sharif and many accused in the Fake Accounts Case, are facing charges of money laundering while they have chosen to live abroad.

Dr Awan, a senior lawyer, indicated that the government was going to make amendments in the anti-money laundering law that will cover all provisions related to bringing such Pakistanis back into the country.

He said that the government has decided to summon separate sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate from Monday to discuss such matters. However, he refused to name any person or politician that will have to have come back under the efforts initiated by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

Cannot bring back politicians without extradition treaties: legal experts

When asked what immediately prompted the PTI government to start a renewed move to bring opposition PML-N leader and former PM Nawaz Sharif back into the country to serve his remaining sentence handed down to him in corruption references, the adviser said that “it was the law that prompted the government” that Sharif should be brought back. The court has given him a fair chance to come back in the country, he added.

The former Prime Minister was convicted in Avenfield properties reference on July 6, 2018 and in Al-Azizia reference on December 24, 2018. In November 2019, the Lahore High Court while hearing a petition had suspended his sentence and granted him bail for a period of four weeks to get his treatment abroad.  Since then, he was staying abroad without any extension in suspension of his sentence.

However, a recent cabinet meeting decided that the government would make efforts to bring former PM back in the country.

The government cannot bring back those Pakistanis facing money laundering charges in the country as long as Pakistan does not sign extradition treaties with those countries where they are staying, said Omer Malik, a barrister. He said that a new proposed law on anti-money laundering would allow the government for information sharing on money laundering with other countries but these countries would not allow access to such Pakistanis expect signing of extradition treaties.

Barrister Malik said that the proposed draft law would also allow the government of Pakistan to give evidence of money laundering in a court of any foreign country.