RAWALPINDI: The government announced on Sunday that it had given one-time permission to Pashtun Tahafuz Movement-backed members of National Assembly Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar to travel to Afghanistan to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the Afghan president after the immigration officials at Islamabad International Airport barred them from boarding a Kabul-bound flight as their names are on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The government’s decision to allow the two lawmakers to travel to Kabul was announced by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability Shahzad Akbar Khan through a tweet after the media reported the airport incident and some opposition leaders criticised the action.
When contacted and asked about the ‘permission’ granted them to travel abroad, Mr Dawar told Dawn that he had seen that only on television but had not received any official confirmation so far.
Permission comes after Wazir, Dawar were stopped from boarding flight for Afghan capital
“Let us see. However, there is no use of it [permission] because the flight has already departed and oath taking ceremony of the Afghan president is being held on Monday morning and now there is no flight for Kabul.”
Mr Akbar said in a tweeter that Mr Dawar and Mr Wazir were stopped by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from flying to Kabul because their names were on the ECL.
Later, he said, Prime Minister Imran Khan instructed the Ministry of Interior to grant one-time permission to the MNAs to travel to Kabul to attend oath-taking ceremony of President Ashraf Ghani and the ministry had granted them one-time permission to travel.
According to sources, the MNAs were barred from boarding Afghanistan’s Kam Air flight RQ-928 by the FIA when they arrived at the Islamabad to depart for Kabul and reported to the immigration staff.
The FIA immigration officials informed them that they could not travel as their names had been placed on the ECL.
An FIA official who didn’t give his name said that the two individuals were barred from boarding a Kabul-bound flight as their names had been placed on the ECL.
Mr Dawar said that he along with Mr Wazir arrived at the airport to depart for Kabul to participate in the oath-taking ceremony of the Afghan president, being held on Monday, but they were stopped by the FIA officials.
“The FIA’s immigration staff told us that they had received an order not to allow them to leave the country,” MNA Dawar said, adding that one of the FIA officials contacted his senior officer and informed them that their names had been placed on the ECL.
He said that the FIA official dialled a telephone number which he said was mentioned on the list to get the latest orders, but got no response.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said in her tweet that the names of Mr Dawar and Mr Wazir had been placed on the ECL and they did not get permission from the government to go to Afghanistan.
She said that Mr Dawar intended to defame state institutions. She said that if the MNAs applied for travelling abroad, the decision would be taken according to the law.
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2020