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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi yet to be intimated on removal of his name from ECL

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
December 26, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and Secretary General of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is yet to receive intimation from the administration about removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) as he has to proceed to the United States to inquire after his sister and brother-in-law in Pennsylvania, who are critical after testing positive for COVID-19.

Both are hospitalized as Shahid’s brother-in-law Jehanzaib is on ventilator while his sister Afshan Abbasi, who underwent a major surgery in 2017, has been removed for quarantine. Abbasi was then the prime minister, but he visited her in hospital and undertook journey from Islamabad to the United States privately and didn’t avail any protocol from his own government and the US administration. Senator Saadia Abbasi, another sister of Abbasi, is in the United States to look after her sister and brother-in-law.

She told The News on Friday that the condition of Jehanzaib is critical as he has been on ventilator for five weeks. Afshan is breathing on her own since she is no more seeking help of artificial system of oxygen for breathing. Saadia urged the well-wishers to pray for the recovery of her brother-in-law and sister.

Sources close to Abbasi told this scribe that the former prime minister would leave early next week provided the notification for the removal of his name from the ECL is received by then. It hasn’t reached him till Friday evening. He is contemplating to proceed straight to Washington and return home after visiting his sister and brother-in-law. The administration has given the impression that the name has been removed from the ECL for a fortnight, but he wouldn’t avail it to the maximum number of permitted days.

To a query, the sources said Abbasi has no plan to visit London and meet Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid Nawaz Sharif due to precarious corona situation in the United Kingdom. His lawyers had prepared to proceed to the relevant court for the removal of his name from the ECL. For that purpose, the lawyer had to exhaust the opportunity to approach the authorities concerned for the removal of his name temporarily. In normal course, the court asks for approaching the administration first for seeking such permission. Once the administration declines the permission, the court intervenes.

The lawyers opted to cut short the procedure and sought permission from the administration, and it accorded the approval, the sources pointed out. PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal will look after the responsibilities of Abbasi in the PDM during the days in which he wouldn’t be available, the sources added.