Pakistan, UK to sign prisoner exchange deal ‘shortly’

In this file photo, a Pakistani policeman closes the main gate of the Adiala Jail, in Rawalpindi, Nov. 17, 2006. (AFP)
Updated 12 December 2018

Pakistan, UK to sign prisoner exchange deal ‘shortly’

  • Islamabad hopes to finalize treaty by March
  • British parliamentarians fear it will be abused to repatriate political dissidents

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and United Kingdom on Tuesday expressed “satisfaction” over the legalities of the protocol pertaining to the exchange and transfer of prisoners between both the countries, hoping that the deal “would be signed shortly” – a development for which Islamabad has been trying to convince the British government for long.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jeremy Hunt, discussed this and a host of other issues over a telephone call.
“The two foreign ministers discussed a wide range of regional and bilateral issues of mutual interest and expressed satisfaction at the current state of relations,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs read.
Pakistan also appreciated the expanded bilateral cooperation and stressed that the UK was an important trade and investment partner for the South Asian nation. “Brexit would open new opportunities for trade and development between the two countries,” Qureshi said.
The two foreign ministers agreed to hold the fourth round of talks as part of the Pakistan-UK Enhanced Strategic Dialogue in the first quarter of 2019 in London.
According to the statement, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation, particularly in the spheres of “regional security, counter-terrorism, organized crime, money-laundering and asset recovery.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has been trying to sign bilateral treaties with the UK and other countries in its pursuit to fight corruption and recover looted money stashed abroad.
As part of the effort, Pakistan’s federal cabinet last month approved plans to renew a prisoner exchange program with the UK and Northern Ireland. The Prisoner Exchange Treaty was part of an understanding reached between the two countries in September this year during British Home Secretary Sajid Javed’s visit to Islamabad.
Masroor Shah, a senior lawyer and expert on international law, said that the prisoner exchange treaty is a welcome move as this would help both the countries swap prisoners on “humanitarian grounds.”
“The treaty is also a tool of bilateral cooperation and this will help open other avenues of collaboration between both the countries,” he told Arab News. “The treaty will help facilitate the fair treatment and social rehabilitation of prisoners in their native countries.”
Shah, however, clarified that the deal is not equivalent to an extradition treaty. “Pakistan and UK does not have a formal extradition treaty, but even then Pakistan has extradited at least two persons so far to the UK through a bilateral arrangement,” he added.
He said that Pakistan’s anti-corruption institutions would not be able to bring back the wanted individuals residing in England in the absence of an extradition treaty.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Mirza Shahzad Akbar told Arab News earlier this week that a bilateral treaty would be ratified with the UK in the coming months, besides enacting a Mutual Legal Assistance law to obtain evidence from foreign jurisdictions about financial crimes and corruption.
“We are also hopeful to sign an extradition treaty with the UK by March next year,” he said.
Tahir Malik, an expert on international affairs, expressed skepticism over Pakistan’s claim of signing the extradition treaty with the UK by March, saying that British parliamentarians and the civil society have repeatedly expressed concerns over Islamabad’s human rights record and treatment being meted out to religious minorities.
“UK parliamentarians fear that the extradition treaty, once signed with Pakistan, will be abused by seeking expatriation of political dissidents,” he told Arab News. “Until Islamabad addresses the legitimate human rights’ concerns of the international community, an extradition treaty with the UK won’t be possible.”


Pakistani online marketplace raises $6.5 mln seed round, second largest in MENA

Updated 19 January 2021

Pakistani online marketplace raises $6.5 mln seed round, second largest in MENA

  • The round was co-led by Global Founders Capital and Indus Valley Capital
  • Saudi’s Derayah Ventures has also invested in Bazaar which connects retailers to wholesalers and manufacturers

ISLAMABAD: Bazaar, a Pakistani online marketplace that connects retailers directly to wholesalers and manufacturers, has raised a $6.5 million seed round, the second largest ever in the Middle East and North Africa region and the largest in Pakistan, one of the venture capital firms that invested in the project said on Tuesday. 
Last year, Bazaar raised $1.3 million in Pakistan’s largest ever pre-seed round. Co-founded by Saad Jangda and Hamza Jawaid in April 2020, Bazaar started a closed pilot in Karachi during extreme lockdown conditions because of the coronavirus pandemic when shorter working hours created major supply chain problems for retailers. 
“Congrats to @joinbazaar on raising a $6.5M seed round, the second largest ever in MENA and largest in Pakistan, co-led by @Global_Founders founder and @indusvalleycap,” Aatif Awan, the founder of Indus Valley Capital, said on Twitter. “Couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with them as they revolutionize the $150B retail industry in Pakistan.”


“Magic happens when smart ambitious founders take on huge markets. In just 8 months, Bazaar has built an incredible team and product, serving more than 10 thousand retailers every month.”
Awan, former VP of growth at LinkedIn, said when his firm first invested in Bazaar in May last year, they set ambitious targets for 2020. “They went on to crush those goals by 10x!” he added. 
He said it was exciting that so many investors had invested in Pakistan for the first time through the Bazaar deal, including early-stage VC S7V, Singapore-based Wavemaker Partners, Saudi Arabia’s Derayah Ventures and US-based NextBillion Ventures. 

“Bringing the fragmented B2B retail market online is one of the biggest startup opportunities in Pakistan. I have tracked it for over a year and have been waiting to back the right team to go after it,” Awan said in an interview last year. “Bazaar’s founding team is phenomenal on all fronts – product, strategy and execution. Indus Valley Capital is really excited to partner with them.”