ISLAMABAD - In the wake of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government’s recent decision to place 172 people on Exit Control List, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Monday approved a bill to amend ECL law despite government’s opposition.

The committee that met in the chair of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik unanimously approved the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Amendment Bill moved by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart Senator Mian Raza Rabbani. The two key ministries, Ministry of Interior and Law Ministry opposed the bill.

Last week, the government had placed the names of 172 people including politicians, bankers, businessmen and bureaucrats who were named by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in connection with Fake Accounts Case.

The proposed bill recommends that a person whose name has been placed on the ECL should be informed within 24 hours after the decision. It proposes that the government should also give reasons for the decision — a recommendation that was opposed by the Ministry of Interior. The law ministry also endorsed the interior ministry. The bill recommends that a person placed on ECL should be given the right to file an appeal and it should be mandatory for the government to decide on it within 15 days. If the government doesn’t decide within the given time period, the name should be considered removed from the ECL.

Senator Rabbani in the meeting said the authority to place anyone’s name should rest with the government and opposed that secretary interior should be given this power. The committee had the view that federal cabinet cannot meet on daily basis to decide on ECL cases and the authority should be given to secretary interior. “Giving any office or officer discretionary powers is not right,” Rabbani said adding anyone’s right to movement could not be restricted in haste.

Senator Rehman Malik remarked that some selected names were being put on ECL and justice did not seem to be done on the issue. “We will not let anyone pick and choose,” he said adding that names should be placed on ECL on the basis of the law not on anyone’s wishes. He also said that all those people facing inquiries of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had not been placed on the ECL.

“The committee has taken serious notice of placing 172 people on ECL,” he said. He asked the Ministry of Interior what are the criteria to the place the names on ECL. He directed that a list of all politicians and others facing NAB and FIA inquiries should be placed before the committee to be examined which names are on ECL and others are not.

Chairman committee said that the provisions of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance, 1981 were in conflict with the fundamental rights conferred by the Constitution.

“The proposed bill brings the ordinance in harmony with the Constitution and is based on the observations of the Superior Courts in several cases,” he said.

Rehman Malik informed the meeting that he had also sought a report from FIA on sudden devaluation of rupees twice, on 9th October and on 30th November, against dollar. “FIA has been directed to investigate the matter on guidelines provided by the committee,” he said. He said that there were cartels operating in the country which was responsible for devaluation of rupee and billions of rupees had been earned illegally in this scam.

Senator Rehman Malik said that the committee would expose these cartels that how they were functioning in nexus with international money changers to raise the price of dollar by locking the banking transactions technically to force the government to devalue the rupee. He said that this committee would help the government as how these illegal money exchangers were operating to mint the illegal money. He said that some officials of commercial banks operating in Pakistan were involved in this scam and directed the FIA to launch the investigation against treasurers of all banks and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

The committee directed country’s intelligence agencies including Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) to help FIA in identifying such cartels and send a report to the committee.

MQM Senator Ateeq Sheikh briefed the committee that how mobiles phones had been stolen from dry port Faisalabad and replaced with their dummies. The committee asked the interior ministry to submit a report in this connection.

On request of Senator Ateeq Sheikh, the committee directed the interior ministry and chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) to shut down shuttle bus service being operated in the Diplomatic Enclave to provide transport facility to the visa seekers. The committee directed that CDA should run its own public transport service and the private shuttle service was charging exorbitant rates from the common citizens. “As now the security situation in country has improved, shuttle bus service should be closed immediately as it as charging heavily,” Malik said.