In a letter to Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi, PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar said either investigations had been initiated against the nine leaders in corruption cases or references had been filed against them.
This move of the PPP — one of the main opposition parties — is believed to be a tit-for-tat response to the recent placement of 172 accused of the fake bank accounts case, including the party’s chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, former CM Qaim Ali Shah, provincial minister Anwar Siyal and real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, on the ECL after which they cannot travel abroad.
The nine leaders whose names the PPP wants to see on the ECL include federal Ministers Pervez Khattak, Fehmida Mirza, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Zubaida Jalal, Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan, senior Minister of KP Atif Khan, senior Minister of Punjab Aleem Khan and Jehangir Khan Tareen of the PTI.
The letter sent to Shehryar Afridi by the PPP secretary general said, ‘more names will follow’.
“If names have to be placed on the ECL merely on the basis of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) reports, the same principle will have to be applied uniformly and without discrimination,” the letter said.
It further said: “The information minister announced on Dec 27 placing the names of the PPP leaders… on the Exit Control List. The cabinet had decided to place all 172 individuals named in a JIT report (on the fake accounts) on the ECL.”
“Significantly, the ECL decision by the cabinet was made within hours of the meeting of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the PPP in Naudero, Sindh, on the eve of 11th martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The CEC denounced political vendetta in the garb of accountability, demanded uniform accountability of all paid out of national exchequer and also took some important decisions to respond to current political challenges,” the letter added.
It said that placing the PPP leaders’ names on the ECL immediately after the CEC meeting exposed political motivation behind the decision. “The fact that many names in the list of 172 persons didn’t even contain full details also shows the hurried, knee-jerk reaction to the PPP CEC meeting,” it added.
The letter said a new element in the ECL policy seemed to have been introduced. “Under it people may be placed on ECL merely on the basis of a one-sided prosecution narrative without even a formal reference or court case and without taking into account defence plea.”
Therefore, the PPP secretary general said in the letter, the party expected and demanded that the names of Imran Khan and eight others should also be placed on the ECL.