The Lahore High Court on Thursday fixed for hearing a petition by pop singer Muhammad Ashraf, also known as Malkoo, challenging his placement on the Provisional National Identification List (PNIL).

The PNIL is a controversial substitute for the Exit Control List, better known as the ECL. It is pertinent to mention that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been maintaining the PNIL for the last couple of years and in urgent cases, the list is being used as a temporary arrangement to stop people placed therein from going abroad.

LHC Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh will preside over the hearing on Friday.

In the singer’s writ petition filed by Advocate Azhar Siddique, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the federal government, interior ministry, Directorate General of Immigration and Passports and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were named as respondents.

It said Malkoo’s name was added to the PNIL in March and has not been removed, with his counsel stating in the petition that his name should not have been on the list for more than one month.

The petition argued that Malkoo was put on the list “in an arbitrary, illegal, without jurisdiction and haphazard manner”.

The petition argued that by putting his name on the PNIL, the respondents had violated Articles 9 (Security of person), 14 (Inviolability of dignity of man), 15 (Freedom of movement), 16 (Freedom of assembly) and 18 (Freedom of trade, business or profession) of the Constitution.

According to the petition, Malkoo released two songs titled Qaeedi 804 and Nak da Koka on his YouTube channel ahead of February’s general elections.

Both songs support PTI founder Imran Khan, who is currently incarcerated in Adiala Jail.

The complaint states that it was because of these songs that his name was put on the PNIL, barring him from travelling to the United Kingdom where he is due to perform live.

“Stopping the petitioner from travelling to UK by placing his name on the PNIL is a clear-cut case of political victimisation,” the petition reads.

The petition requested that Malkoo’s name be taken off the PNIL so he could travel to the UK for his concerts.

It further requested that the court extend any other possible relief to the singer and also order the respondents to allow him to temporarily go abroad for his concerts until the court’s decision on the singer’s petition.

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