ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has said that the name of opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has not been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) as yet.
In a video message released on Saturday, he said a summary sent by a subcommittee of the cabinet for inclusion of the opposition leader’s name in the no-fly list was still with the federal cabinet which would take a final decision in accordance with the law.
His name is already on the`provisional national identification list (PNIL)’ meant to impose a temporary bar on someone to leave the country, according to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) that stopped him at airport from travelling abroad on May 8.
Sheikh Rashid says cabinet will take final decision on subcommittee’s recommendation
The cabinet’s subcommittee, which considered a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) request for placing the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president’s name on the ECL, had made the recommendation a day before Eid and sent the summary to the federal cabinet for approval.
After the move, the interior minister in a joint press conference with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar told the media about the recommendation of the subcommittee.
The minister said Shehbaz was a guarantor of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan from London where he had gone on medical ground. “We have not been told of any medical ground on which Shehbaz was leaving the country,” he said about the former Punjab chief minister’s attempt to fly from the Lahore airport to the UK via Qatar in the early morning hours of May 8.
The interior minister said five members of the Sharif family were absconders. As the names of all other accused in the telegraphic transfer (TT) case were on the ECL, an exemption could not be given to an individual, he made it clear.
He said that PML-N leaders were trying to escape the country only due to the reopening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. “They chose the time of Sehri to run away knowing that the [Hudaibiya Paper Mills] case was about to be reopened,” said the minister for interior while briefing the media on May 12.
The NAB had filed the HPM reference in the year 2000 accusing the entire Sharif family of misappropriating Rs1.24 billion – an amount which it claimed was “unexplainable and disproportionate” to their known sources of income. The LHC, however, quashed the reference in 2014 and the NAB did not challenge the court verdict in the Supreme Court for three years. The bureau finally decided in September 2017 to challenge the 2014 LHC judgement, but the Supreme Court rejected the appeal on December 15, 2017 and a review petition on October 30, 2018.
Barrister Akbar told the presser the subcommittee had made the recommendation to place Shehbaz’s name on the ECL because his trial before an accountability court in Lahore was under way, while cases such as Ramzan Sugar Mills case, Chaudhry Sugar Mills case and other investigations by the FIA had also been under way.
“If Shehbaz was allowed to leave, all these cases would face delays and would be an infringement on the rights of the co-accused in the cases,” he said.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2021