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Senate committee approves ECL amendment bill

Updated December 31, 2018

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Former Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani presented the 'Exit from Pakistan (Control) (Amendment) Act, 2018' during a meeting of the committee today. — File photo
Former Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani presented the 'Exit from Pakistan (Control) (Amendment) Act, 2018' during a meeting of the committee today. — File photo

The Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Monday approved a bill to amend the Exit Control List (ECL) law even as the interior ministry opposed it.

Former Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani presented the 'Exit from Pakistan (Control) (Amendment) Act, 2018' during a meeting of the committee today.

According to Rabbani's recommendations, a person whose name was ordered to be placed on the ECL should be informed within 24 hours. He also suggested that the those who were placed on the ECL should be able to file a review of the decision within 15 days, and if there was no decision on the review in this time, the name should be considered removed from the ECL.

Rabbani noted that the interior secretary does not have the authority to place names on the ECL.

"Giving any person or office discretionary powers is not right," Rabbani said, adding that in his opinion, the authority to place people on the ECL should be with the federal cabinet.

Chairman of the Senate committee, Rehman Malik, also asked for a comprehensive report on whose names the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other institutions were placing on the ECL.

Malik recalled that the Supreme Court had said that the federal government should consult the cabinet when placing names on or removing names from the ECL.

"We will not let anyone pick and choose [names for] the ECL," he said, adding, "Over here, one [suspect] is let go and the other is stopped."

"We will not let anyone act according to their own will," the chairman of the committee said, adding that names will be placed on the ECL on the basis of the law not people's whims.

Malik questioned why everyone facing NAB enquiries had not been placed on the ECL.

Subsequently, the committee approved the amendment bill, although the interior ministry opposed it.

Last week, the names of 172 people ─ including politicians, bankers and businessmen who were named in a court-ordered joint investigation team's (JIT) probe report ─ were placed on the no-fly list.