LAHORE: The government is unlikely to entertain the request of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to remove their names from the Exit Control List, Dawn has learnt.
Mr Sharif and Ms Maryam had on Oct 3 filed an application with the interior ministry, requesting it to remove their names from the ECL, citing different legal points.
The ministry has not yet taken any decision in this regard. The government, however, hinted that it had no immediate plan to give the relief to the Sharifs.
“The interior ministry cannot entertain the request of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on its own as it has no authority. The cabinet had placed their names on the ECL. The interior ministry may refer the matter (their application) to the cabinet, but it is unlikely that it reverses its decision as their (Sharif and Maryam) cases are pending in courts,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn on Wednesday.
Information minister says matter may be referred to cabinet
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had put their names on the ECL on Aug 22 on the request of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) following their conviction by an accountability court in the Avenfield properties reference.
In their application, Mr Sharif and Ms Maryam said their names were placed on the ECL in contravention of various provisions of the Constitution. “The federal government’s order in this respect is unconstitutional and illegal. That Article 4 of the Constitution provides for every individual to enjoy the protection of law, and to be treated in accordance with law is the right of every citizen wherever he may be.”
The application says the Article 9 provides no person shall be deprived of life or liberty. “That Article 15 provides that every citizen shall have the right to remain in and subject to any reasonable restriction imposed by law in the public interest, enter and move freely throughout Pakistan and to reside and settle in any part thereof. This Article provides reasonable restriction on freedom of movement imposed by law but there exists no reasonable grounds whatsoever to restrict the freedom of movement of the undersigned. All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.”
Mr Sharif and Ms Maryam said the grounds to prohibit a person proceeding from Pakistan to a destination outside Pakistan as provided in Rule 2 of the exit from Pakistan (Control) Rules, 2010, were not applicable to the undersigned. “We are neither involved in corruption and misuse of power or authority nor involved in any economic crime, act of terrorism or its conspiracy as envisaged by the said rule.”
They said the accountability court of Islamabad had acquitted them of “false charges of corruption” for which NAB could not provide any proof and even then it had not preferred an appeal against the said judgement before the Islamabad High Court on this point. They said the IHC suspended the judgement on Sept 19 and released them on bail.
“IHC imposed no restriction on our traveling abroad. No other court of law in Pakistan, including banking court, high court or Supreme Court has forwarded or directed to place their names on ECL.
“Upon our illegal conviction in absentia by the accountability court we voluntarily traveled from United Kingdom to Pakistan to offer our arrest in order to uphold the rule of law. We will travel abroad with the prior permission of the accountability court where two references against us are pending. The constitutional, legal and factual position obligates the review of the order of the federal government and removal of our names from the ECL immediately,” Mr Sharif and Ms Maryam pleaded.
Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2018