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Sunday February 25, 2024

Imran, spouse among 27 whose names proposed to be put on ECL

The Ministry of Interior has proposed placing on the Exit Control List (ECL) the names of former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi

November 23, 2023
Former prime minister Imran Khan (right) along with his wife Bushra Bibi (centre) signs surety bonds for bail in various cases, at the registrars office in the Lahore High court on July 17, 2023. — AFP
Former prime minister Imran Khan (right) along with his wife Bushra Bibi (centre) signs surety bonds for bail in various cases, at the registrar's office in the Lahore High court on July 17, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior has proposed placing on the Exit Control List (ECL) the names of former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi, along with 27 other leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allied party, who were allegedly involved in the events of May 9, and Al-Qadir Trust scandal.

PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Murad Saeed, Dr. Yasmin Rashid, Chaudhry Ejaz, Mian Mahmoodur Rashid, Shafqat Mehmood, Asad Qaisar, Shah Farman Ali, Ali Amin Gandapur, Umar Ayub Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Hammad Azhar, Shahzad Akbar, Shaharyar Afridi, Fawad Chaudhry, and Zulfi Bokhari are among those recommended to be included in the ECL, according to sources within the interior ministry.

The decision was reached during a meeting of the subcommittee of the federal cabinet, chaired by caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti on Wednesday.

The subcommittee, tasked with reviewing 41 names involved in various cases, received recommendations from different investigative agencies to place the names of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi and others on the ECL in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had submitted a list of 29 individuals allegedly involved in the Al-Qadir Trust scandal.

The subcommittee recommended removing 13 names from the ECL while seven names were removed on the court orders, and three were recommended for removal upon appeal for review.

In an official statement, the interior ministry said that a meeting of the subcommittee of the federal cabinet was held. On the recommendation of NAB, the names of 29 people, including Imran Khan, were proposed to be placed on the ECL in connection with the £190 million scam.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Wednesday issued notices to the Federation and the interior ministry in the bail plea of former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the cipher case.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ayesha A. Malik, heard the appeal of Imran Khan, seeking bail in the cipher case.

The court, after conducting the initial hearing and listening to arguments of the counsel, admitted the petition for regular hearing, issued notices, sought replies from the Federation and the interior ministry and adjourned the matter for date-in-office (an indefinite period).

During Wednesday’s hearing, Justice Yahya Afridi observed that the cipher case inquiry had said the role of the co-accused would be determined during the investigation. Justice Afridi asked the counsel about the outcome of the final investigation into the case and what it said about Azam Khan.

Salman Safdar submitted that the investigation did not convey a clear stance in that regard. He submitted that Azam Khan was abducted, his family had even lodged a case and afterwards, his statement came forward, recorded under Section 164.

The PTI counsel contended that PTI Chairman Imran Khan was being subjected to political victimisation, adding that he argued before the subordinate court for hours.

Justice Tariq Masood observed that that happened because the cases were being run in a political manner.

Justice Ayesha A. Malik asked the counsel for Imran as to what were his basic arguments in the instant case. Salman Safdar replied they believed that the case should not have been registered in the first place. The PTI counsel contended that the sections invoked apply to crimes such as espionage. Salman Safdar further contended that the investigation into the instant case did not mention anywhere how an enemy state benefitted.

Justice Sardar Tariq Masood observed that it was alleged that the code of the cipher was compromised.

Salman Safdar argued that the cipher was declassified as per the law and then presented in the National Security Committee, adding that the same was also mentioned in the SC verdict on the no-confidence motion against Imran.

Justice Yahya Afridi asked the counsel whether the cipher was a secret document. Safdar replied that it was not a secret document after declassification.

Justice Yahya Afridi asked the counsel as to whether the accused had shown the cipher before its declassification. Salman Safdar replied in negative.

During the hearing, Justice Tariq Masood questioned whether the cipher was waved in the air and its contents were revealed. If so, then whether it did not fall under the category of communication.

Salman Safdar argued that the allegation levelled against his client about keeping the cipher with him was wrong, adding that after removal of his client’s government on the issue of cipher a meeting of the National Security Committee was held on April 24, 2022. “If the cipher was missing, then it should have been mentioned in the minutes of the National Security meeting,” the counsel argued.

Justice Ayesha A. Malik asked the counsel about the interior ministry’s role in this matter. The counsel replied that the interior ministry’s role was filing of a false case, adding that when nobody lodged a complaint, then a case was registered on the behalf of the Ministry of Interior.

Meanwhile, the court issued notices to the Federation and interior ministry and adjourned hearing for date-in-office. Salman Safdar, counsel for Imran Khan, pleaded with the court to give the date of next hearing; however, Justice Sardar Tariq told the counsel not to make it a special case, adding the Registrar’s office will fix the case.

The court also accepted the plea of Hamid Khan, counsel for Imran Khan in the matter related to indictment of PTI chairman in cipher case and adjourned the matter for date-in-office (an indefinite period).

Hamid Khan submitted that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) the other day gave its decision in the intra-court appeal (ICA), filed by Imran Khan regarding his indictment in cipher case. He submitted that in lieu of the IHC decision, he wanted to make some amendments to his application.

Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, however, observed that he could file a new appeal against the fresh IHC order, adding that the court could hear the main appeal filed by him in the apex court.

Hamid Khan sought some time for reviewing the IHC verdict, which the court accepted and adjourned the matter for an indefinite period of time.