PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Names of Bilawal Bhutto, Murad Ali Shah removed from Exit Control List

ANI | Updated: Jan 07, 2019 23:26 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], Jan 7 (ANI): At the order of the Supreme Court, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government on Monday removed the names of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah from the Exit Control List (ECL), thus enabling them to fly abroad.
Announcing this, Information Minister Fawad Choudhry said at a press conference: "We respect the apex court's order and has taken action accordingly."
The Supreme Court while hearing the fake accounts case on Monday ordered that the names of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah be removed from both the ECL and the Joint Investigation Team's (JIT) report on a probe into the case.
The court also ordered that the case be forwarded to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and directed the anti-corruption watchdog to wrap up its investigation within two months.
The top court was hearing a suo motu case regarding a delay into a 2015 Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe into money laundering of billions of rupees via fake bank accounts. Bilawal and Shah were named in the report submitted to the top court last month by the JIT, which was tasked to probe the case.
Several bigwigs including former President Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former President of Summit Bank Hussain Lawai and Omni Group's Anwar Majeed, were all named in the case. Property tycoon Malik Riaz and his son-in-law Zain have also been included in the probe.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar grilled the state prosecutor over why the government had decided to place Bilawal on the no-fly list after the JIT recommended the placement of 172 people named in its report on the ECL. "The JIT will have to clarify one thing: Why did it involve Bilawal in this matter? What did Bilawal do," Justice Nisar asked.
The Chief Justice wondered if the PPP chairman's name had been included at "someone's directives." He asked the state prosecutor Faisal Siddiqui if the reason behind Bilawal's inclusion in the investigation was to "defame someone."
He also expressed annoyance at the placement of the Sindh Chief Minister's name on the ECL. Subsequently, the court ordered the removal of Bilawal and Shah's names from the ECL and JIT report, and sent the case to NAB, directing it to conclude its investigation within two months.
The JIT report had earlier said that a close nexus had been found between a troika of Zardari Group, Omni Group and Bahria Town.
Meanwhile, a banking court in Karachi extended the interim bail of PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur until January 23 in the fake accounts case. The siblings face allegedly illegally channelled funds through the said accounts in connivance with the chief executive officers of major banks.
Both PPP leaders appeared in court for the hearing of the case on Monday amid tight security. The hearing was adjourned until January 23. (ANI)