Government denies politicking on no-fly list

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Iftikhar Durrani says the PPP leaders, Bilawal Bhutto and Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, will remain on the no-fly list till the government received a written order of the Supreme Court to remove their names from Exit Control List. ( File Photo/ Press Information Department)
Updated 12 January 2019

Government denies politicking on no-fly list

  • Says senior People's Party leaders would remain on list until written orders from top court
  • Opposition politicians say government making a mockery of no-fly laws

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government on Saturday dismissed allegations by opposition parties that it was "playing politics" by keeping the names of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) chairman and the Sindh Chief Minister on a no-fly list despite a Supreme Court order that they be removed. 
“The government is following a laid down procedure on the Exit Control List (ECL) issue and there is no question of using it as a tool to malign the opposition or anybody else,” Iftikhar Durrani, special assistant to the prime minister on media, told Arab News.

The government added 172 individuals -- including PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, and several other bankers and businessmen -- to the ECL after they were named in a Joint Investigation Team's report on money-laundering allegations last month. 

On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered that Bilawal and Shah’s names be struck both from the ECL and the joint investigation team's report. 
Durrani, however, said the travel ban would continue till the government “receives a written order from the court in this regard.”

“Opposition parties are trying to make this an issue for their political benefit,” he said, “but the fact is that this is a legal issue and will be handled accordingly.”

Durrani added that the government had constituted a special committee to review names of politicians placed on the no-fly list and “anybody whose name is on the ECL can appear before it to justify as to why his/her name should be removed from the list.”
Last month, a joint investigation team set up on court orders submitted a report claiming a close nexus between Zardari and the owners of two major business conglomerates, Omni groups and Bahria Town, who had used at least 29 fake bank accounts to launder Rs42 billion.
The JIT filed the report after investigating 11,500 bank accounts of 924 individuals and companies associated with the fake accounts, the document said.
The Supreme Court has referred the case to the National Accountability Bureau with instructions to complete its investigation within two weeks.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s senior leader Naveed Chaudhry called the findings of the JIT “a pack of lies,” and said his party would present its defence at all relevant forums, including the apex court and the National Accountability Bureau.
“They are playing politics with us," Chaudhry told Arab News, adding that the government has just “exposed" itself by not removing the names of the PPP's top leadership from the ECL.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Mushahidullah Khan said the government was making a "mockery" of the ECL law by placing the chief executive of the country’s second biggest province on the no-fly list.
“The government has failed to provide relief to the common man, so it is trying to hide behind petty issues like the ECL,” he said.
The Jamat-e-Islami, another opposition party in National Assembly and Senate, urged the government to review its decision on the ECL issue. 

“The government should try to take along opposition parties to resolve the issues of masses instead of antagonising them by placing names of their senior leadership on the ECL,” Liaqat Baloch, the party's secretary general, said.

China calls for de-escalation of tensions in South Asia

Updated 19 March 2019

China calls for de-escalation of tensions in South Asia

  • FM Qureshi is visiting Beijing to attend the strategic dialogue between the two countries
  • China applauded Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts

ISLAMABAD: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday called for de-escalation of tensions in South Asia and emphasized the need for dialogue to resolve all outstanding dispute in the region, said an official handout circulated by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

China’s top diplomat made the statement during his conversation with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is currently visiting Beijing to attend the China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

“The two sides reaffirmed support to each other on all core issues of their national interest,” the handout read. “They underlined that state sovereignty and territorial integrity are cardinal principles of UN Charter and international law.”

Discussing the situation in Afghanistan, both leaders expressed support for the ongoing efforts for peace and reconciliation in that country, reiterating “support for Afghan-owned Afghan-led inclusive peace process and called on all stakeholders in Afghanistan to become part of an intra-Afghan dialogue.”

China and Pakistan also agreed to continue their mutual collaboration and reaffirmed their commitment to the economic corridor between Gwadar and Xinjiang as they pledged to work for the smooth implementation of the project, especially its Special Economic Zones.

“While rejecting the negative propaganda against CPEC, they expressed a strong resolve to safeguard [it] from all kinds of threats,” Pakistan’s official statement said.

The two sides also agreed to increase cooperation against terrorism by strengthening communication and coordination in different areas of importance. “The Chinese side highly appreciated Pakistan’s commitment and efforts to counter terrorism,” the handout read, adding: “Foreign Minister of Pakistan expressed appreciation for Chinese support for Pakistan’s efforts.”