Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet on Thursday asked why lawmakers were "so scared" of the Exit Control List (ECL) and why they were so keen to go abroad.
The tweet comes ahead of a federal cabinet meeting today, in which the removal of the name of PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — among others — from the ECL is expected to be discussed, DawnNewsTV reported. According to Radio Pakistan, the cabinet meeting will also discuss the overall political and economic situation of the country.
"There is so much work to be done by politicians in and for Pakistan — the land they claim to love but some cannot wait to take frequent trips abroad and lawmakers have iqamas or residences abroad," Prime Minister Khan added in his tweet.
"Can anyone explain this strange phenomenon to those of us who would be quite happy to remain in and work for Pakistan because we actually love Pakistan," the premier asked in another tweet.
Shortly after, Bilawal replied to the premier on Twitter, saying: "Obviously selected PM doesn't understand the concept of human rights or freedom of movement."
"Funny it’s only the opposition members on ECL, government members are busy travelling. Including PM who despite promising not to travel for first six months has made more than seven trips so far!," the PPP chairman added.
On the recommendations of the joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the fake accounts case, the federal cabinet had in its meeting on December 27, 2018 decided to place the names of 172 individuals — who were named in the investigation report — on the ECL, including Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Farooq H Naek and several other leaders and provincial ministers belonging to the PPP.
Last week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had grilled the state prosecutor over why the government had decided to place names of Bilawal and the Sindh chief minister on the no-fly list based on JIT's recommendation, ordering the federal cabinet to reconsider its "hasty decision".
The government, however, had said it would wait for the court's written judgement.
During a National Assembly session on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi regretted that the government had shown haste in placing the names of 172 people on the ECL.
Attempting to placate the PPP, Qureshi said that the matter was discussed in a federal cabinet meeting and the government had decided to wait until the detailed verdict is released.
According to Qureshi, the top court had ordered the government to consider the removal of the travel ban, not to take the names off the list immediately.
Later in the day on Wednesday, the Supreme Court finally released its order pertaining to the removal of the names of Bilawal as well as Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah from ECL, noting: "Removing of the names will not prevent NAB [National Accountability Bureau] to probe and in case sufficient material is found connecting these individuals with cognisable offences, it will not be precluded from making an appropriate request to the federal government to place their names on [the] ECL again or take any appropriate action provided by law."