Cabinet subcommittee recommends Shehbaz Sharif’s name be placed on ECL: minister

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Wednesday disclosed that a subcommittee of the federal cabinet had recommended placing PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif’s name in the Exit Control List (ECL) to prevent him from leaving the country while cases against him were ongoing.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Rashid said the cabinet would accept the recommendation today or tomorrow (Thursday).

He said that when the names of other people accused in cases were placed on the ECL, then Shehbaz could not be given “special treatment” according to Article 25 of the Constitution.

The interior minister said there were three kinds of lists: the blacklist, names for which were decided by the passport office, the PNIL (person not in list), names for which were decided by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the ECL, names for which were decided by the federal cabinet.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had sent a request to place Shehbaz’s name on the ECL which was deemed to be “correct” by a three-member subcommittee of the cabinet, he said, adding that the subcommittee decided unanimously to send a recommendation to the cabinet for approval.

Rashid said Shehbaz could submit an application within 15 days to the interior ministry against the cabinet’s decision and could also choose to appear personally during the review. After the application was received, the ministry would have to take a decision in 90 days, he said.

The minister claimed that Shehbaz had tried to run away at Sehri — referring to the PML-N leader’s attempt to take a flight to Qatar last week which he was not allowed to board — because the Hudaibya Paper Mills (HPM) case was being reopened.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed his legal team to ensure fresh investigation into the Hudaibya Paper Mills case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz and other members of the family.

The government had also decided to challenge the recent Lahore High Court (LHC) decision to grant bail to the opposition leader along with permission to go abroad for medical treatment.

The HPM case involving Rs1.242 billion had been initiated in March 2000, with the Sharif brothers said to be the main accused, when the NAB authorities moved a reference. Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, both children of the ex-premier, as well as Ishaq Dar were among other accused.

More to follow.

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