Shehbaz placed on Exit Control List, says Minister


-Govt challenges Lahore High Court decision in Supreme Court
-Shehbaz files contempt plea in LHC

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: The government has placed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif on the Exit Control List (ECL), Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed announced on Monday.
The same was also confirmed by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry who said the measure was taken after approval from the cabinet and completion of legal requirements. “The [air travel] record has also been updated,” he in a tweet.
Sharif was released on bail in April, seven months after he was arrested by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on charges of money laundering and graft.
Subsequently, on May 8, the Lahore High Court (LHC) also permitted him to travel to the United Kingdom for a medical check-up between May 8 and July 3 for a medical check-up in a ruling that drew criticism from the government. Sharif had petitioned the court, saying he is a cancer survivor who now needs treatment abroad.
Angered, Chaudhry described the ruling as a “joke” that he said could help Sharif “escape the law as his brother did” in 2019.
The following day, as Sharif reached the airport to board the flight, the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) officials present there informed him that his name is on the provisional national identification list (PNIL), thereby keeping him from leaving the country.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Rasheed said Sharif had not submitted any documents to support his request for medical treatment or specified the treatment for his illness.
“He was the guarantor for his brother Nawaz. But instead of bringing him back, he was trying to flee without having any Suhoor. This is the only country in the world where, in the span of a day, a case was accepted for hearing, a decision was announced […] and a [air] ticket was booked.”
“Five members of the Sharif family have already escaped,” he recalled. The absconding members of the Sharif family include deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Ishaq Dar, Abid Sher Ali and Sharif’s son Suleman Shahbaz. All the accused in the cases involving Sharif are on the no-fly list except the former Punjab chief minister, he said, adding that under the Constitution, all suspects are to be treated the same.
Rasheed further said the Ministry of Interior issued the notification after receiving approval from the cabinet, adding Sharif had two weeks to request a review of the decision.
Moreover, The federal government challenged the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) May 7 decision of granting one-time permission to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif to travel abroad in the Supreme Court on Monday. The government moved an appeal in the apex court under Article 185 of the country’s constitution. Assailing the LHC decision to allow Shehbaz to travel abroad on medical grounds, the appellant requested the top court to suspend it. The court was further pleaded to declare the order void.
It said the LHC decision cannot be sustained in the eyes of law as the high court permitted the opposition leader without seeking any reply or report from the relevant authorities. “The court cannot hand a unilateral decision of allowing someone to fly out of the country,” the appeal argues. “There is no guarantee that Shehbaz Sharif will fly back home,” it states. “Shehbaz himself is a guarantor of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif and his wife, son, daughter and son-in-law are fugitive.”
On May 7, the Lahore High Court granted one-time permission to the PML-N leader to travel abroad for medical treatment. Shehbaz reached Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore in wee hours of May 8 to fly out of the country but was stopped from boarding a Qatar-bound flight due to his name still being on the blacklist.
Moreover, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif on Monday filed a contempt of court plea in the Lahore High Court (LHC) for not allowing him to travel abroad.On Friday, the Lahore High Court granted one-time permission to the PML-N leader to travel abroad for medical treatment, but he was offloaded by the FIA immigration authorities. The opposition leader has made the federal government and Director General Federal Investigation Agency (DG-FIA) Wajid Zia the respondent in his plea. The plea filed through Amjad Pervez and Azam Nazir Tarar advocate in the LHC stated that Shehbaz Sharif was allowed by the high court to travel abroad for treatment, but he was stopped at the airport by the FIA immigration counter.
The LHC has been asked to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the officials for not complying with the court orders. Earlier, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was offloaded from a Qatar-bound flight at Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore. The Lahore High Court in its conditional permission allowed Shahbaz Sharif to go abroad from May 08 to July 05.