Pakistan has started the legal process to reach an extradition treaty with Britain that would pave the way for the UK to hand over former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The development comes after a top Pakistani court earlier this month declared Sharif a fugitive from justice for failing to return home to face additional corruption charges.
Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison in a separate case, for corruption and money laundering in 2018. He has been living in self-imposed exile in London.
Pakistan currently has no extradition treaty with Britain. The process hence is assumed to take years and could face stiff resistance in parliament.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party is currently holding nationwide rallies demanding Prime Minister Imran Khan step down by the end of the month over alleged bad governance and failing to improve the country’s economy.
Khan refuses to resign, and the opposition has vowed to walk out of parliament and provincial assemblies in 2021 to force early mid-term elections.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court ousted Sharif from office over corruption allegations in 2017. Authorities in November 2019 temporarily released him on bail amid deteriorating health so that he could travel and seek medical treatment abroad.
At the time, another court permitted Sharif to leave the country for four weeks, with the option to extend the time abroad if he was not able to travel afterward. His bail later expired and authorities subsequently issued arrest warrants for him.
Also, in 2018, Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison for a separate case of corruption and money laundering.