ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued notices to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over a plea seeking to exclude the name of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s close aide Zulfi Bukhari from the Exit Control List (ECL).
Justice Amir Farooq conducted hearing of the case during which Bukhari’s lawyer said that imposing a travel ban on his client is contrary to human rights.
He said that Bukhari was first stopped from traveling to Saudi Arabia for Umrah on June 11, however, he was later given permission for six days. Bukhari’s name was unlawfully put on ECL, he added.
The lawyer said that NAB cannot bar anyone from traveling abroad on an undergoing inquiry and requested the court to withdraw this decision.
Meanwhile, Justice Amir asked Bukhari why he needs a restraining order. The court suspended notification of Interior Ministry and also rejected Bukhari’s appeal of giving restraining order over the issue.
Moreover, hearing of the case has been adjourned until June 21.
Earlier, Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk asked for an explanation from the Interior Ministry on how Bukhari left for Saudi Arabia despite the ban.
According to local media reports, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) stated that the caretaker prime minister had taken notice of Bukhari’s flight out of the country on Monday.
It was earlier reported that Bukhari was not allowed to board the flight to Saudi Arabia as his name had been placed on ECL.
According to some private TV channels, the interior ministry has submitted a report claiming that Bukhari’s name was not on ECL.
The federal cabinet on Wednesday also took notice of this and the notice taken by the prime minister suggests that he had not been in the loop about the grant of a one-time permission to Bukhari.
Bukhari is being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for owning an off-shore firm that was revealed in the Panama Papers. Subsequently, his name was placed on ECL on NAB’s request.
According to a letter issued by the interior ministry, a one-time “permission” was given to Bukhari for six days so he could perform Umrah.
On Monday, a special flight flew PTI chairman Khan, his wife Bushra Imran, PTI leader Aleem Khan and his wife, and Bukhari to Medina.
Sources said that PTI chairman Imran Khan had telephoned the interior secretary and ensured him about Bukhari’s return to Pakistan.