Ruckus over non-inclusion of Sharif on ECL

The authority for taking a final decision on the issue has been withdrawn from the Interior Ministry committee

Islamabad


Pakistan’s ruling party has reportedly changed the procedure for maintaining the Exit Control List (ECL), giving full authority to the interior minister or interior secretary in this regard.

A new summary has been prepared for approval by the federal cabinet, according to a Dawn report.

The new development emerged following a conflict between the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Interior Ministry when NAB asked the ministry to put the names of five family members of dismissed premier Nawaz Sharif on the ECL, which never materialised.

Now it has been reported that the authority for taking a final decision on the issue has been withdrawn from the Interior Ministry committee and handed over to the Minister or the Secretary.

On Friday, the issue was raised in the National Assembly by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Naveed Qamar.

“What is the procedure for putting someone’s name on Exit Control List?” Qamar questioned. “You put someone’s name on ECL before [court proceedings] begin. Even when the Panama case was going on, and even now with accountability court hearing cases against the Sharif family [Nawaz’s name is not on ECL]. Why is this policy not being followed in this case?” He said that double standards regarding the Sharifs “cannot be followed”.

Disclosing the change in official policy of the Interior Ministry, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar hinted that the pattern set by him has been changed by the current administration.

Answering a question in the National Assembly raised by MNA Naveed Qamar, Nisar explained that during his tenure, a committee of the Interior Ministry was authorised to make a decision regarding the names of the persons to be put on ECL, with minimal role of the Interior Secretary and other ministers.

Commenting on the new ECL process, Nisar remarked that the ECL committee should make its decision on merit, adding that the recommendations made by NAB should be reviewed and then implemented.

Last month, Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog NAB had requested the Interior Ministry to place the names of Nawaz Sharif; his sons, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz; daughter Maryam Nawaz; and son-in-law, retired Capt Mohammad Safdar, on the ECL.

NAB made the request over the suspicion that the Sharifs may attempt to leave the country ahead of the trial conclusion as the five members of Sharif family are facing corruption cases in the accountability courts.

The Interior Ministry is supposed to put the names of suspects issued by NAB on the ECL, but according to a report by Dawn, “those at the helm of affairs at the ministry have refused to cooperate when it comes to barring the Sharifs from travelling abroad.”

According to the current procedure, a four-member committee headed by an additional secretary has the authority to place or delete names from the ECL on the recommendations of courts, tribunals and agencies.

The Interior Ministry, however, has changed the procedure under which Interior Minister or Secretary would have the powers to insert or delete names from the list provided the new summary is passed by the federal cabinet.

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