Federal cabinet postpones decision on excluding PPP’s Bilawal, CM Murad from ECL

ISLAMABAD, Jan 10 (INP): Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Thursday presided over a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad to, primarily, mull over the addition of 172 influential individuals in the Exit Control List (ECL).

It was being expected that the meeting would decide to remove the names of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah from the no-fly list.

However, the matter has been postponed till the next meeting, with remarks that the decision would be taken after a detailed judgement by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP).

In this regard, the concerned committee was directed to submit a report on its recommendations to the interior ministry.

Moreover, the federal cabinet reviewed the recommendations before approving the removal of Bilawal and CM Shah’s names from the no-fly list, but could not come to a conclusion.

Earlier, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said “We have put their names on the ECL as persons under investigation had been setting a precedent of ‘escaping’ from the country. Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi fecilitated Ishaq Dar (former finance minister) and helped him escape on his plane.”

Besides, several critical issues will also be examined in the meeting.

The background

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), probing into an alleged mega money laundering case, has accused the Zardari Group, Omni Group and Bahria Town in its report presented to the apex court, and subsequently requested placing the names of 172 suspects on the ECL.

Responding to the JIT findings, the federal government had released a list of 172 suspects whose names were placed on the list. The list included Bilawal Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah, presidents of many local banks, and other former ministers, bureaucrats and businessmen.

However, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar expressed disappointment over the government’s decision.

“How can the name of chief executive of the country’s second-biggest province be put on the ECL?” Justice Nisar asked the attorney general.

His remarks forced the government to review its decision.