ISLAMABAD - The escape of former Indus Water Commissioner Syed Jamaat Ali Shah to a foreign country despite his name was put on the Exit Control List (ECL) has raised questions on the significance of ECL that is managed and updated by the Interior Ministry and the performance of FIA’s Immigration Wing.

Syed Jamaat Ali Shah had silently slipped to Canada though the federal government had put his name on the ECL after an inquiry report prepared by WAPDA had held him responsible for facilitating and helping India in the construction of 45 MW Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower project. Secretary WAPDA Mohammad Imtiaz Tajwar has prepared the report stating that Shah lost the opportunity to take the issue to the court of arbitration and neutral expert.  The escape of Syed Jamaat Ali Shah putting a number of question marks on the significance of ECL has also raised many eye borrows as the name of former Ambassador to Pakistan in US Husain Haqqani has also been put on the ECL on the directions of Supreme Court who is facing the investigations of a judicial commission for his alleged involvement in memogate scandal.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik Monday told reporters in Karachi that Mr Shah would be taken back in the country through Interpol if he had fled away without mentioning any action if he had taken against the responsible officials of FIA.

It is testimony of the fact that any person could be brought back in the country through Interpol if a local court declares him a proclaimed offender and issues red warrants in his name but it is not the matter of fact in case of Jamaat Ali Shah.

An official of the Ministry of Interior on the condition of anonymity informed that the ministry was only responsible for managing the list and it was the duty of the FIA’s Immigration Wing deputed at the airports to keep a strict check on the movement of those persons put on the ECL.  He, however, confirmed that neither the minister had directed for the initiation of any action nor the ministry itself started action against the FIA official involved in this severe negligence adding that if the story was true.

This not the first kind of incident in its nature as previously many persons including the daughter of Riaz Lal Jee, an accused in Pakistan Steel Mills scam, Rao Shakeel Ahmed former DG Haj succeeded to escape from the country despite the fact that their names had been put on ECL.

A senior retired bureaucrat who also remained associated with FIA for many years informed that big money was always involved in such escape cases. “In another case, FIA always does such actions on the directions of the Interior Ministry or the interior minister as well,” he added.