Govt removes Bilawal, Murad names from ECL

After receiving a detailed judgment of the Supreme Court in the fake bank accounts case, the federal cabinet on Thursday decided to remove the names of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah from the exit control list (ECL) for the time being.

Addressing a joint press briefing on cabinet decisions, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Media Iftikhar Durrani and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on dispelled the impression that the government was in hurry to remove their names from the ECL, adding that the cabinet had earlier delayed the decision as it had been waiting for the detailed written order of the court. Prime Minister Imran Khan, who chaired the cabinet meeting, directed the interior ministry to remove Bilawal and Shah’s names from the ECL with immediate effect.

PM’s aide clarifies the names won’t be removed from JIT report

Citing some confusion about the apex court’s detailed verdict, Akbar told reporters that as per the court orders, the accountability watchdog can still recommend the placement of the names of the Sindh chief minister and the PPP chief again on the ECL. He noted that the verdict had directed the JIT to continue supporting NAB, and that the watchdog will file a reference without waiting for the apex court’s orders in case it finds sufficient legal grounds to do so. He also made it clear that the name of Bilawal Bhutto and other accused will not be removed from the JIT report.

Akbar said based on the evidence in the JIT report, NAB can file 16 references and it has to complete its investigation in two months. He said the references will be filed in the accountability courts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The new chief justice will appoint a monitoring judge to the case, he added.

Akbar said the JIT report clearly indicates that money laundering and other serious crimes had been committed. He said due to the grave nature of crimes involved, the role of the JIT has been maintained unlike other cases wherein JIT was dissolved after completing the task assigned to it.

PM makes Fawad, Zaidi leave cabinet meeting for not filing asset details with ECP

Referring to the issue of names of other persons on the ECL, he stated a special review committee of the interior ministry has been directed to review the issue in light of the directions of the Supreme Court. Briefing newsmen on other decisions, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Media Affairs Iftikhar Durrani said the cabinet has given approval for the auction of 15 out of 20 ships of the Ministry of National Food Security.

He said the cabinet approved placement of the development and non-development budget of the Capital Administration and Development Division under the interior ministry. It approved the appointment of Maj Gen (r) Amir Azeem as chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, and the appointment of Ali Raza Bhatta, a Grade 21 officer, as secretary of the Benazir Income Support Programme. The cabinet approved a supplementary grant of Rs750 million for the National Accountability Bureau.

Durrani rejected the impression that the government was going to present a mini-budget on Jan 23. He categorically denied the reports that the government was set to increase the ratio of sales tax on Jan 23. At the onset of the meeting, the prime minister asked two cabinet members, Ali Zaidi and Fawad Chaudhry, to leave the meeting as the Election Commission of Pakistan has suspended their membership of the National Assembly after they, along with 70 other MNAs, failed to submit details of their assets to the commission in time.

Published in Daily Times, January 18th 2019.

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