Pak asks Switzerland to reject Bugti`s asylum plea

Pakistan has asked Switzerland to reject a plea for political asylum by Brahamdagh Bugti.

Islamabad: Pakistan has asked Switzerland to reject a
plea for political asylum by Brahamdagh Bugti, the head of an
outlawed Baloch nationalist group, and to extradite him,
according to a media report on Sunday.

Pakistani authorities are yet to hear from their
Swiss counterparts about their request but say the Swiss
government`s initial response was that of "consideration", the
Dawn newspaper reported.

Bugti, 30, heads the Baloch Republican Party and its
militant wing, the Baloch Republican Army.

He has been accused of involvement in attacks on
non-Baloch settlers in Balochistan, government installations
and the armed forces.

"Proof" of his alleged involvement in subversive
activities has been handed over to Swiss officials, an unnamed
official was quoted as saying.

On being questioned by Swiss authorities about the
Pakistani allegations, a Western diplomat said Bugti denied
them and alleged he was facing threats to his life in Pakistan
because of his "support for the freedom of Balochistan", the
report said.

Bugti is the second rebel leader whose plea for
asylum has been officially opposed by Pakistan.

Islamabad had previously tried to block Hyrbyair
Marri`s application for asylum in Britain.

However, he succeeded in getting asylum this year
after being initially rejected by the British Home Office.

Bugti has been on the run since 2006 and initially
took refuge in Afghanistan, where he reportedly stayed for
almost four years. His stay in Afghanistan sparked a
diplomatic row between Kabul and Islamabad, which demanded his

The US and some Western countries, in an effort to
defuse tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan and to
improve counter-terrorism cooperation, helped Bugti to
relocate to Switzerland.

Bugti and his family reached Switzerland in October
last year and sought asylum.

A UN agency is believed to have played an active
role in facilitating his transfer to Switzerland via the
United Arab Emirates, the report said.

A Pakistani security official claimed Bugti travelled to
Geneva on an Indian passport. The claim could not be verified
independently. Pakistan security agencies have long accused India of
sponsoring Bugti`s "terrorist activities", the report said.
Pakistan does not have an extradition treaty with

However, officials are still hoping Bugti`s asylum
plea will be rejected and he will ultimately be extradited.

"For extradition, a treaty is not essential. A sovereign
country can always extradite a foreign national on legally
maintainable grounds. Such precedents also exist," a Pakistani
official said.

What worries Pakistan is that Western governments
have been "sympathetic" to Baloch nationalists and some of
them have "indirectly patronised them" the report said.

According to a US cable leaked by WikiLeaks, the CIA
station chief in Islamabad had discussed with ISI chief Lt Gen
Shuja Pasha the possibility of transferring Bugti to Ireland,
which had promised asylum for him, in December 2009.

Pasha rejected the initiative, stressing that Bugti
should be returned to Pakistan, where he would stand trial for
his crimes.

The proposal was initiated by UNHCR, whose officials
desired to reciprocate the help by the Baloch in recovering
kidnapped UNHCR official John Solecki.

The US had in February 2010 explored the possibility
of swapping Bugti with Taliban leader Mullah Baradar, who was
in the custody of Pakistani security agencies. Baradar`s
transfer was later blocked by a court ruling.


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