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LAHORE: Federal Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday his ministry would decide “on merit” the matter of putting names of the deposed premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, sons and son-in-law on the Exit Control List (ECL).

“Whatever the decision we will take (with reference to putting Sharif family names on ECL), it will be on merit,” the minister said while talking to the media after participating in a day-long conference on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“We won’t want ECL to become a political tool. We didn’t use this even for our opponents, as we removed names of PPP leaders Dr Asim and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (from the list),” he added.

Troops to KSA part of civ-mil cooperation

He said neither any of the PML-N leaders, nor the government, was criticising the judges or their verdict on the former PM Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification.

“The PML-N top leader Nawaz Sharif implemented this decision in its letter and spirit. But we reserve the right under the law and the Constitution to express our concerns on the verdict. Not only we and the nation, but the international leaders, media too wondered and express concerns over this (the verdict),” he explained.

He said the PML-N was not only depressed over Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification, but also on the verdict that made the Supreme Court disputed.

“The decision of death sentence to Zulifqar Ali Bhutto and other verdicts, including (the one in) Zafar Ali Shah case, also proved controversial and were never accepted. It is really a tragedy,” Mr Iqbal, who also held the charge of minister for planning, development and reform, said.

He said since the PML-N always accorded due respect to the honourable judges, it expected the judges too should use the words worthy of their stature.

The PML-N also expected of the Supreme Court to not indulge in any political dispute, he said, adding that like the judiciary the parliament too was an important pillar of the state that must be respected by all other institutions.

“And I think if all institutions, including the parliament, the judiciary and the military work within their constitutional ambit, there would be no issue,” the minister said.

Ahsan Iqbal warned that attempts were being made to push Pakistan towards political instability and unrest.

“Look Pakistan is now in a take-off position. Our opponents are upset over the success of the CPEC,” he said.

He said sending troops to Saudi Arabia was not an issue, the decision to this effect is part of the civil-military cooperation between the two countries.

“Some troops we have sent to Saudi Arabia are non-combat that means they wouldn’t be used for war,” he claimed.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018