ISLAMABAD: A sub-committee of the federal cabinet reserved its decision on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s plea for removal of her name from the Exit Control List (ECL) so she could go to London to visit her ailing father.
Reportedly, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has expressed its opposition to the removal of PML-N VP’s name from the no-fly list.
On December 9, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had directed the federal government’s review committee to decide Maryam’s application for removal of her name from ECL within seven days.
A two-member bench, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, had taken up the PML-N VP’s petition and had directed the review committee to issue its decision as per the law.
During the proceedings, Maryam’s lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar had said that the court should change her petition’s status to “pending” and direct the government to decide on the review application. However, the court had said that they did not want to increase the pressure on the government by doing so and disposed of the petition, and had directed the government to decide on the review application.
On December 7, Maryam had filed a petition in the LHC seeking the removal of her name from the ECL.
The PML-N VP is currently on bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case, in which she is a suspect, but her name remains on the no-fly list. Her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, travelled to London last month after the government and courts granted him permission to fly abroad on medical grounds.
Maryam’s petition had listed the federal government, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and chairman and director general of NAB as respondents.
In her petition, Maryam had argued that her name was placed on the ECL without notice and providing her with an opportunity of hearing through a memorandum dated August 20, 2018.
The application had stated that the recommendations by NAB were “acted upon in a mechanical manner and without judicious application of mind in contravention of the law declared by the superior courts”.
According to the petition, the apprehension by the government and NAB that Maryam would abscond if allowed to travel abroad did not appeal to reason in view of her track record. It had said that during the filing of corruption references against them by NAB in the accountability court of Islamabad, Maryam and her father were attending to Begum Kulsoom Nawaz who was undergoing cancer treatment in London but despite this, they returned to Pakistan to face the trial.
“It is also an admitted fact that the petitioner and her father volunteered to come back to surrender […] even after a judgment of conviction announced in their absence” in the Avenfield reference, the petition had argued.
It had stated that the move to place Maryam’s name on the no-fly list was prompted by “political rhetoric, irrelevant and considerations extraneous to law” and that the jurisdiction to impose ban on travel by an accused or convict was the “exclusive domain” of the concerned court of law and not the government and NAB.
Noting that her father was shifted abroad on account of his critical health condition, the petition had said that Maryam is “also entitled to relief on compassionate and humanitarian grounds”.
It had said after her mother’s demise, it was Maryam who has been looking after her ailing father “who is much dependent upon her”.
Maryam had requested the LHC to declare the memorandum through which her name was placed on the ECL last year as “illegal, without lawful authority, void ab-initio and of no legal effect”, and direct the government to delete her name from the ECL.
Until this petition was decided, the PML-N leader had requested the LHC to grant her a “one-time permission” to travel abroad for six weeks from the date of departure.