IHC suspends FIA order to add Shehzad Akbar, Shahbaz Gill and others to no-fly list

Published April 12, 2022
This combination of photos shows former special assistant to PM on political communication Shahbaz Gill (R) and ex-adviser to PM on interior and accountability Shahzad Akbar. — Photos via APP/PID
This combination of photos shows former special assistant to PM on political communication Shahbaz Gill (R) and ex-adviser to PM on interior and accountability Shahzad Akbar. — Photos via APP/PID

The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday suspended the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) order placing the names of key aides of former prime minister Imran Khan – including his former adviser on interior and accountability Shahzad Akbar and special assistant on political communication Shahbaz Gill and four others – on the "stop list".

According to media reports, the FIA had a day ago placed six key members of the former PTI government — Gill; Akbar; Imran Khan's focal person on digital media, Dr Arsalan Khalid; ex-PM Imran's principal secretary Azam Khan; Punjab Anti Corruption Director-General Gohar Nafees; and FIA Punjab Zone Director General Mohammad Rizwan — on the "stop list".

Any person placed on the "stop list" is not allowed to leave the country.

Akbar filed a petition with the IHC on Tuesday, seeking revocation of the FIA move that bars him and others from foreign travel.

Akbar and Gill later appeared before the court as the plea was taken up for hearing.

During the proceedings, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the court had already declared the "black list" illegal. Akbar urged the court to summon the FIA chief and inquire from him on whose directions his name was placed on the no-fly list.

He said in case he had committed a crime, "there should be an application moved [to request such a move]".

The court, while referring to Gill and Akbar, asked whether the duo had plans to go abroad by tomorrow. "We are seeking a reply from the FIA tomorrow," Justice Minallah said.

In its written order, the court directed the respondents to appear at 10.30am on Wednesday and explain "who had authorised the placing of the names of the petitioners and other three officials closely associated with the former premier on the list".

"They are expected to satisfy the court that the action was not based on victimisation," the court said in its order.

It further maintained that "the operation of the no fly list/PNIL to the extent of the petitioners and other three officials — Muhammad Azam Khan, Muhammad Gohar Nafees and Arsalan Khalid — shall remain suspended."

Earlier, Akbar in his petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, made the Ministry of Interior, FIA director general, and FIA Immigration additional director general as respondents.

He pointed out in the petition that he was placed on the no-fly list "at about 1.55am", just after voting on the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly had taken place, which he said "showed malafide on part of the respondents, who acted at the behest of someone behind the scene without having an inquiry of complaint by any party."

He urged the court to declare the FIA's act void and unconstitutional and order an inquiry into it.

In a statement after the hearing, Akbar said the court had sought replies from the FIA chief and the interior secretary by 10:30am on Wednesday, asking them why the names were placed on the list after voting on the no-trust move against former prime minister Imran Khan and on whose instruction these names were added since there was no government in place at the time.

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