The SAARC Home Ministers’ meet attended by P Chidambaram last week had resulted in two positive developments in pushing Pakistan to address the issue of terrorism, including a legal framework under which India can demand for handing over of persons like LeT founder Hafiz Saeed in the absence of an extradition treaty.
Equally important is Pakistan being part of the statement adopted at the Home Minister’s meet that calls for early adoption of the United Nations’ Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism—an imitative for which India has put enormous efforts, and Pakistan along with countries like Syria stiff resistance.
But ample caution is guiding the evident optimism of Government officials, considering the history of India—Pakistan ties.
Though Pakistan hasn’t come around in full measures, it has little option but to be positive now about the ratification of the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters that also has extradition provisions. India has already ratified it.
For example, India had managed to get Abu Salem from Portugal despite having an extradition treaty as both countries were party to the UN Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, points out officials.
Hence if Pakistan too ratifies the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, sources say that it “acts as a legal framework” under which India can ask for the wanted people, and Islamabad cant cite absence of agreements as this convention has provisions for extradition and all countries who ratify the agreements have to abide by it.
Pakistan being part of the Islamabad statement that calls for the ratification of the Convention apart, diplomatic pressure, too, is mounting on them.
The two other countries—Nepal and Afghanistan—that haven’t ratified this convention have indicated their willingness to ratify the convention. And, Pakistan wouldn’t like to be the lone spoiler of the SAARC joint efforts in this regard, hopes the officials.
The Islamabad statement reiterated all SAARC nations “shall contribute to the efforts in the UN General Assembly for early adoption of the UN Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.”
India did try hard and succeeded in including this paragraph in the statement.
This proposed treaty intends to criminalise all forms of international terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms, and safe havens. The negotiations of this treaty are currently under way. With Kashmir in mind, Pakistan has been an opponent to this convention, and has raised objections to the definition of terrorism. “Now that the Pakistan has agreed to this proposed UN convention on a regional forum like SAARC, we can expect them to continue with such stance in other forums, too”, explained an official.