PPP cries foul after Senate opposition leader Yousuf Raza Gillani 'stopped' from travelling abroad for conference

Published October 6, 2021
This file photo shows Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gillani. — AFP/File
This file photo shows Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gillani. — AFP/File

Former prime minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gillani was reportedly barred from travelling abroad for an international conference, it emerged on Wednesday.

According to the PPP leader's son Qasim Gillani, the former premier's staff was told that his name was on the exit control list (ECL) at the airport's immigration counter.

Taking to Twitter, his other son, former MNA Syed Ali Musa Gillani, said that the government had stopped the PPP leader from proceeding to Italy on the invitation of the Italian government to represent the country during a climate summit.

"In the age of innocent until proven guilty and in a self-proclaimed democracy, the leader of the opposition is not allowed to represent Pakistan and lead the delegation of parliamentarians at an international conference. Such is the democracy we live in!"

He added that tools like the ECL only make "the tyrants of today look weak and deprive Pakistan of badly needed statesmanship at the international arena."

This is not the first time that the former prime minister, whose name was placed on the ECL in the Trade Development Authority scandal, has been stopped from exiting the country. In Feb 2019, Gillani was stopped from leaving the country at the Lahore airport after his name was found to be on a no-fly list.

The PPP leader had reached the Allama Iqbal International Airport to catch a flight to South Korea where he was scheduled to attend a conference.

At the immigration counter of the airport, he was informed that his name was on the exit control list and he could not leave the country.

Later the same year, Gilani was allowed to travel to Cambodia after the Ministry of Interior removed his name from the ECL. At the time, Gilani had officially been invited by the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to attend the Asia Pacific Summit 2019.

Family sources had told Dawn that Gilani had sought permission from the ministry to travel abroad which was granted. “He has been allowed to travel abroad for 15 days and it is one-time permission,” a source was quoted as saying.

'Two systems'

Reacting to the development on Wednesday, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that the Senate opposition leader was going to Rome to lead the Pakistani delegation, consisting of MNA and Senators, at a meeting of Inter-Parliamentary Union.

"Convicted criminals are allowed to leave the country, but there are restrictions on PPP leaders," she said, adding that he wanted to represent the country in front of lawmakers around the world but was stopped.

She also criticised the "two systems" in the country. "If one former prime minister is allowed to leave the country despite his name being on the ECL then why can't another?" she questioned.

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