ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed Saturday said that the PTI government has not yet placed Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif on the Exit Control List (ECL). 

The minister said this in a video message two days after opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for placing the name of its party leader on the no-fly list during Eid holidays.  

“So far Shahbaz Sharif’s name has not been placed on ECL because the Cabinet Division has not sent back the summary (to interior ministry),” said the minister adding that it is likely that the ministry would receive the summary in the first two working days of next week. He said that he was compelled to clarify the government’s position because there has been lot of noise in the media for the last few days regarding placement of his name on ECL. On May 12, Sheikh Rasheed had announced that a sub-committee comprising law and interior ministers and adviser to PM on accountability, on the request of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), has unanimously recommended to the cabinet to place Shahbaz on ECL. He had also said that the cabinet would take a final decision on this recommendation. 

 

 

 

The interior minister in his message said that all 14 accused in this corruption investigation were already on ECL and five members of Sharif family were absconders in the same case. Shahbaz himself was also guarantor of former PM and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif who has been staying in London after his release from prison on medical grounds, he said. 

He further said that Shahbaz was not proceeding to London directly. “He first had to quarantine himself in Qatar for 15 days and then had to leave for UK,” he said adding that the government did not receive any medical report from the opposition leader. When cabinet sends back the summary (to interior ministry), then both ministers of interior and law have to move forward on it, he also said. “You will have to wait till next Monday or Tuesday,” he said adding that then both the ministries will take the decision in the light of law and Constitution. 

On May 7, Lahore High Court had ordered the federal government to exclude Shahbaz from the Black List, another no-fly list, allowing him one-time permission to leave for London for his medical check-up. The next day on May 8, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) stopped the opposition leader at Lahore Airport from flying abroad saying that his name was still on a no-fly list.

After this, the PTI government alleged that PML-N leaders were trying to escape the country only because of re-opening of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against them. 

Talking about the Covid-19 situation, the interior minister lauded the role of Pakistan Army, the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC), the police and other institutions for doing a commendable job for ensuring compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) during Eid holidays. He also appreciated the efforts of public in this connection. Due to this reason, the positivity rate of Covid-19 has decreased in the country, he said.  

“In comparison, the horrible Indian variant of the virus has spread to the UK and is infecting 400,000 people and claiming 4,000 lives (in India) on a daily basis,” he said. “In such situation, I appreciate all the country’s institutions for a superb job,” he said adding that masses also showed their national responsibility.

Earlier, Pakistan reported 1,531 new coronavirus cases during the last 24 hours showing a decrease in the new infections for the first time since March 9 when the country had reported less than 2,000 cases.