ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk has sought a report on removal of the name of a close friend of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan from the Exit Control List (ECL) and grant of ‘one-time permission’ to him to perform Umrah and return within six days.
Zulfiqar Hussain Bukhari, commonly known as Zulfi Bukhari, was accompanying the PTI chief and his wife on way to Saudi Arabia on Monday when he was stopped by immigration authorities at Nur Khan Airbase for having his name on the ECL.
Allegedly, the PTI chief used his influence and contacted ‘important personalities’ to have Bukhari’s name removed from ECL. The process of removal was so expeditious that Khan, his wife and Bukhari left for Saudi Arabia on a special chartered plane within one hour.
Taking notice of the event, the interim PM Mulk on Wednesday sought a report from Interior Ministry, a one-liner from Prime Minister’s Office said. Till filing of this report, the Interior Ministry had not submitted its related report, official sources said.
An official source privy to the matter told The Express Tribune that names of the owners of offshore companies were placed on the ECL in line with the order of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with its probe into the Panama Papers scandal.
He said Bukhari is a foreign national who does not have a Pakistani passport. The accused neither has any wealth, property, asset or investment in Pakistan nor has committed any offence in Pakistan on the basis of which his name can be placed on ECL.
“To me, it looks more of a case of clerical glitch. Bukhari’s name should have been removed from the ECL earlier but the accused probably did not pursue the matter.”
However, he admitted that the proper procedure needs to be followed for the removal of any name from the ECL after seeking clearance from a cabinet’s sub-committee that deals with the ECL cases.
Some reports surfacing on Wednesday claimed that Bukhari’s name was removed from the ECL on the intervention of interim Interior Minister Azam Khan who is allegedly closely linked to Imran Khan. The interior minister is a board member of Imran Khan Foundation (IKF), a charity and welfare organisation.
“A Barrister-at-Law from Lincoln’s Inn, Azam Khan brings a wealth of public administration and philanthropic experience to the IKF Board,” says Azam Khan’s official profile at the IKF website imrankhanfoundation.org.pk. However, these reports could not be verified and no word came from the interim government regarding the matter. Reports also claimed that NAB expressed its concern over Bukhari’s removal from the ECL.
Mulk reviews Hajj operations 2018
The interim PM was briefed on Wednesday about the working of Ministry of Religious Affairs with a special focus on Hajj Operations 2018. According to a press release, Religious Affairs Secretary Khalid Masood Chaudhry briefed the PM about various functions of the ministry.
The secretary also briefed about the preparation made for ensuring smooth Hajj operations 2018. It was informed that 374,857 Hajj applications this year under the government Hajj scheme and 10000 seats were reserved this year for the applicants over 80 years of age along with one physically fit attendant.
Similarly, 12,235 applicants who remained unsuccessful continuously for the last three or more years have been declared successful to perform Hajj.