The Ministry of Interior has refused to place the names of five Sharif family members on the Exit Control List (ECL), sources within the National Accountability Bureau told DawnNewsTV on Friday.
NAB and the ministry have been at loggerheads over the issue of putting names of the Sharif family members — including of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif — on the ECL for a while, said a well-placed source.
The anti-corruption watchdog 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. The request was made over the suspicion that the Sharifs — all of whom are facing corruption cases in the accountability courts — may attempt to leave the country ahead of the trials' conclusions.
The ministry is supposed to put the names of suspects issued by NAB on the ECL, the source said, adding that those at the helm of affairs at the ministry have refused to cooperate when it comes to barring the Sharifs from travelling abroad.
The ministry has reportedly been refusing to entertain NAB’s request on the grounds that it would place the Sharif family members’ names on the ECL only on a court’s order.
The NAB officials, on the other hand, have termed this argument a "delaying tactic". According to the source, the interior ministry in the past had never refused NAB’s requests to place the names of suspects on the ECL. Now, however, the ministry has decided to take the federal cabinet on board with regards to the issue, the source added.
Currently, a four-member committee headed by an additional secretary of the ministry places or deletes names from the ECL on the recommendations of courts, tribunals and agencies.
The ministry, however, has decided to strip the committee of its powers to regulate the ECL, another source told DawnNewsTV. A new summary has been devised in this regard, the source said, adding that if passed, only the interior minister or secretary would have the powers to insert or delete names from the list. The summary has yet to be sent to the federal cabinet.
On Friday, the issue also echoed in the Punjab Assembly when Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, the leader of the opposition in the assembly, reiterated the demand to put names of the Sharif family members on the ECL. He accused Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal of showing reluctance to place the names on the ECL.
The speaker, however, refrained the opposition leader from speaking on the issue.
DawnNewsTV has approached the interior ministry for a comment on the issue and is awaiting a response.
Additional reporting by Shakeel Qarar and Arif Malik