Pak asks Switzerland to reject Bugti's asylum plea



Pak asks Switzerland to reject Bugti`s asylum plea 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 handover.

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 Switzerland.

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.

PTI