65,000 names taken off ECL, passport blacklist

September 17, 2015

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Individuals would be placed on the ECL on the recommendations of defence institutions, agencies, the superior judiciary.—APP/File
Individuals would be placed on the ECL on the recommendations of defence institutions, agencies, the superior judiciary.—APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has remo­ved the names of over 65,000 individuals from the Exit Control List (ECL) and the passport blacklist.

Interior Minister Chaud­hry Nisar Ali Khan made the announcement on Wednes­day and said that a separate policy would be formulated for foreigners in the near future.

According to a break-up given by the minister, 4,987 names had been deleted from the ECL and only those individuals had been retai­ned who had been on the list for less than three years, or those who were: involved in anti-state activities or terrorism; linked to proscribed organisations; placed on the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act or those who had been placed on the list at the orders of the superior judiciary.

Also read: Nisar announces overhaul of ECL

In addition, he said, the names of 59,603 persons had been removed from the passport blacklist, of that 22,491 names were deleted, 9,660 were shifted to the Passport Control List (PCL) and 27,452 were placed on the Visa Control List (VCL).

He said that in the future individuals would be placed on the ECL and on the recommendations of defence institutions, intelligence agencies or the superior judiciary.

Those linked to proscribed organisations, accused of drug trafficking or those involved in espionage-related activities would never be allowed to travel abroad, he added.

“The ECL is not a joke,” the minister said, adding, “Unfortunately, many people had been barred from proceeding abroad over petty domestic issues.”

There was no rule or policy in place for putting people on the no-fly list, he said, lamenting that several respectable people had been on the ECL since the 1980s.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said a new system would also be introduced next month in Rawalpindi and Islamabad to deliver passports to applicants’ doorsteps. Applicants would be kept informed about passport delivery via SMS messages and would not have to visit the passport office again and again.

Applicants would also be able to give their feedback and send in suggestions through SMS in order to further improve the procedure, he added.

Subsequently, this home delivery system would be expanded to other major cities within the next six months.

He said that efforts were being made to provide machine readable passport (MRP) facility in 91 foreign missions which, he added, was expected to be completed by end of this year.

Moreover, the minister said, efforts were under-way to further improve the performance of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

Chaudhry Nisar said corruption in Nadra would not be overlooked and 138 employees had been sacked over charges of corruption and for issuing fake identity cards.

He said the Passport Office, in collaboration with Nadra, would establish 13 centres along international standards, starting from Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi, to better facilitate the people.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2015

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