ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Interior (MoI) has sought the Cabinet's nod on 10 Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) requests to be sent to non-treaty countries through Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), official sources told Business Recorder. Minister for Interior, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed recently held a meeting with the British High Commissioner and discussed the case of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The government has already announced it would not extend the passport of Nawaz Sharif, which will expire in a week’s time.
The MoI, in its proposal has stated that the globalization of crime requires states to have a wide range of methods for international cooperation with countries from the same region (regional instruments) and from different regions of the world (international instruments). International cooperation is a process by which countries seek and provide many forms of legal assistance from and to other countries in criminal and other matters. International cooperation may be carried out through a formal request of legal assistance from the Central Authority of one state to another state through which the requested authority is asked to perform one or more specified actions, like collecting the evidence or interviewing the witnesses, etc, on behalf of the requesting country. These requests are conventionally transmitted through diplomatic channels or via central authorities. The requested country is expected to respond at the earliest possible time.
Pakistan is committed to provide timely and quality international cooperation to the international community in relation to criminal matters. To this end, new laws, policies and procedures have been instituted to ensure that authorities are able to respond to and seek quality requests for assistance. A standalone Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Act 2020 was passed and enacted on August 12 2020. Section 3 of the said Act regulates the procedure for rendering and soliciting Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters in two ways:- (i) Mutual Legal Assistance may be provided by Pakistan to a country on the principle of reciprocity reduced in writing. (Bilateral-Treaty) and; (ii) where the Federal Government considers it expedient to provide Mutual Legal Assistance in a criminal matter to a country which has not entered into an agreement with Pakistan (on the basis of reciprocity).
Ministry of Interior being the Central Authority has received 5 MLA Requests from Balochistan Province, 3 MLA Requests from KPK Province, 3 MLA Requests from Federal Investigation Agency, 1 MLA Request from Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and 1 MLA Request has been initiated by Ministry of Interior.
These MLA Requests are also required to be presented before the Federal Government/Cabinet for approval for submission to Ministry of Foreign Affairs for onward reference to foreign jurisdictions.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021