ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that no case is pending against former president Asif Ali Zardari at present and, therefore, he is a free man to go anywhere.
“As far as the matter of Zardari Sahab is concerned, he is not on the ECL (exit control list). As far as I know, no case is pending against him,” said the minister while responding to a question during a talk with media at a ceremony held at the headquarters of the National Database and Registration Authority in connection with the launch of Nadra Mega Centre in Lahore and Executive Passport Offices in Sargodha and Faisalabad.
“If there is any case pending against him [Mr Zardari] in your knowledge, please let me know I will hold an inquiry,” said a smiling Chaudhry Nisar, who is known for his open criticism against Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Zardari over the latter’s alleged corruption in the past.
The PPP chief, who had returned to the country in December last year, left the country for Dubai on Sunday after months of hectic political activities in all the four provinces and the federal capital.
Only last month while responding to Mr Zardari’s reaction over the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papes case, Chaudhry Nisar had severely criticised the former president for “lecturing others and issuing certificates of honesty under Articles 62 and 63” of the Constitution.
“When Zardari starts teaching about morality it could be a sign of the Day of Judgment,” he had reportedly said while mentioning his alleged conviction by Swiss courts.
Last year, when the PPP and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) were coming closer on the Panama Papers issue, the interior minister had advised PTI chief Imran Khan “to ask Bilawal about the Surrey Palace, diamond necklace and Swiss accounts before bringing him on a container.”
Chaudhry Nisar had stated that Mr Zardari remained president for five years but did not declare his assets and “if he cannot do so, he should explain about the three palaces he owns in Dubai”.
“I would have appreciated if Bilawal had asked his father about his assets in the same way he asks Nawaz Sharif,” Chaudhry Nisar had said.
Meanwhile, highlighting the achievements of his government in improving services at Nadra and passport offices, the minister said that billions of rupees were being spent on establishing Nadra mega centres and executive passport offices to facilitate the general public and avoid long queues at the existing facilities.
The minister said the mega centre in Lahore would have 48 counters, equipped with modern facilities to facilitate applicants for computerised national identity cards (CNICs). He said nine more such mega centres were under-construction in different cities.
He said at present 557 Nadra centres were working in the country and the ministry was planning to expand the network in collaboration with Pakistan Post. “We will establish such offices where staff of Pakistan Post and its buildings would be available,” he said.
As a pilot project, he said, 10 post offices would be used for renewal of identity cards in the next two months and later the network would be expanded to 1,500 post offices across the country.
To a question, he said action was taken against many Nadra officials for their involvement in unfair practices.
The minister said that out of 175,000 blocked CNICs, 160,000 had already been unblocked.
The minister said that the government had cancelled 30,000 passports but no one had filed any appeal against this action. He said in future, Nadra would not block any CNIC merely on suspicion,
He disclosed that 3,600 people had voluntarily surrendered their CNICs after a successful campaign through the media. He claimed that there were 10,000 suspected Afghan refugees having PoR (proof of registration) cards who had got CNICs illegally.
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2017