News Analysis |
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has asked the Interior Ministry to explain ‘how Zulfi Bukhari was allowed to travel abroad so easily?’ The IHC was hearing Bukhari’s petition seeking the removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL). The judge was surprised to learn that a person whose name was on the blacklist was allowed to travel abroad without informing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Imran Khan made a call to the Interior Ministry to remove his friend’s name from the list, it was further added.
Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, a businessman and British national, was informed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on June 11, when he was about to leave for performing Umrah along with his friend PTI’s chief Imran Khan, that his name was on the blacklist, according to a petition filed by his lawyer, Sikandar Bashir Mohmand.
Bukhari was stopped at the airport for almost three hours, according to media reports. But later on, the Interior Ministry directed the authorities to let Bukhari go for performing Umrah. The Interior Minister Azam Khan said that he was told that Bukhari had “vowed to return [to Pakistan]” after which he had allowed the latter to leave the country for six days.
Azam also told the Senate Standing Committee for Interior that the interior secretary had handed him a file and told him that a man named Zulfi Bukhari, who is on the “blacklist,” was stopped from leaving for Umrah with Imran.
Bukhari had requested that his name is taken off the blacklist and asked for a “one-time permission” to travel abroad.
“I saw Bukhari’s file and gave him permission to leave the country for six days and wrote that he must return,” Azam told the standing committee.
The judge was surprised to learn that a person whose name was on the blacklist was allowed to travel abroad without informing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Justice Farooq, who was not happy about the direction of the Interior Ministry, remarked that the Interior Ministry ordinarily displayed a reluctance to remove names from the ECL despite the orders of superior courts but in this case, they showed remarkable efficiency. “I wish such efficiency was displayed in cases pertaining to the general public,” he added.
Moreover, the IHC also observed that the blacklist was meant to restrict movements of a person involved in anti-state activities, and wondered how Bukhari was allowed to “leave in such haste without informing NAB”.
Imran Khan did not ask interior ministry:
In an interview with a local TV channel, the PTI’s chief has openly challenged to prove if he called any person for Bukhari or anyone else. Imran Khan made it clear that he did not call to the Interior Ministry to get Zulfi Bukhari’s name out of the blacklist. But Khan also mentioned that since his friend is a British National and has business in England, the NAB should be careful in its investigation.
The caretaker Interior Minister has also clarified that he did not receive any call from the PTI’s chief.
Earlier, some anchors on TV channels have claimed that the name of Bukhari was placed in the ECL because he had not responded to notices issued by the NAB. Imran Khan made a call to the Interior Ministry to remove his friend’s name from the list, it was further added.
Zulfi Bukhari, later on, appeared on a TV channel and explained his position and also clarified that Imran Khan did not call anyone. “I am here to face the investigation initiated by the NAB,” Zulfi said.