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Indo-Pak row link in Anees release

New Delhi, Dec. 19: The fear that handing over Anees Ibrahim to India will jeopardise its relations with Pakistan may have forced the United Arab Emirates to release him and arrange for his alleged deportation to Karachi.

Anees, an accused in the Bombay blasts case and the brother of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, had been in Dubai police custody since December 3. He was later given bail in an extortion case.

It is not yet clear at what level the decision was taken in the UAE. But there are indications that the rivalry between the Abu Dhabi leadership and the Dubai authorities, too, may have played an important role in the move.

India has given a demarche to the UAE, expressing its dismay over his release. “We have deplored the release of Anees Ibrahim,” external affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

The details of his release were still awaited from Dubai, he said. The matter has also been taken up with the UAE embassy in Delhi.

While South Block is looking for ways to extricate itself from the situation, Parliament’s standing committee on external affairs has suggested setting up a panel of special government counsel for extradition cases. Care should be taken to include in this panel top legal luminaries with expertise in criminal laws of foreign countries, the committee, headed by Krishna Bose, said in its tenth report to the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The panel argued that extradition cases had wider ramifications for the country’s international relations. So such proceedings, in India and abroad, should not be treated like general legal matters.

According to the external affairs ministry, the professional services of the Centre’s standing counsel were not found commensurate with the requirements of extradition cases because fugitives often hired top legal professionals to fight for them.

On December 10, India was formally told about Anees’ arrest by the UAE Interpol. India’s ambassador K.C. Singh, who met under-secretary of foreign affairs Saif bin Zaid and foreign secretary Saif Said, was assured the criminal would be handed over to Delhi.

Within the next few days, however, Anees was released from Dubai. Worse still, India learnt about the release and alleged deportation to Pakistan from media reports.

Officials here said the UAE authorities — who have signed an extradition treaty with India — have thus gone against their bilateral and international obligations.

Indications, however, suggest that the Dubai authorities — whose police act as a “quasi independent” body — decided to act on its own, ignoring Abu Dhabi’s commitment to India.

South Block sources are now wondering whether they made a mistake in turning on the heat through constant reminders that Anees was on the list of 20 handed to Pakistan.

To resume the stalled dialogue with Pakistan, India had insisted on the handing over of the criminals who figure on the list of 20.

There is no doubt about Anees’ brother and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s muscle and money clout in Dubai. But it was Pakistan that got into the act when it realised the political mileage Delhi would get out of Anees’ successful extradition to India.

Dubai authorities may have developed cold feet when they realised that handing over Anees to Delhi would mean inviting the on-going Indo-Pak diplomatic row to its soil.

According to sources, another factor that went against India was Delhi’s failure to engage with the UAE at the highest level.

Since Aftab Ansari’s release from Dubai this February, the Indian leadership has failed to keep in touch with Dubai or the Sheikhs in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan, however, has continued to engage with the UAE at various levels for it considers the emirate an important friend.

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