ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said it was unacceptable to retain individuals for long without any cogent justification on the Exit Control List (ECL) as well as the blacklist, and declared that the two lists would be cut down.
Talking to reporters after visiting the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Mr Ahmed, recently appointed to the Ministry of the Interior, said there were about 4,500 people on the ECL and several thousand on the blacklist.
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The Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance, enacted on December 21, 1981, by the Gen Ziaul Haq regime, arms the federal government with expansive powers to bar any person from leaving Pakistan.
The minister said that it was important to make the FIA a people-friendly institution and vowed to boost its capability. He said he had issued a go-ahead to make 2,000 inductions, including the cybercrime wing, in various wings of the agency.
He said that he would resolve the problem of the shortage of funds facing the FIA and assured the investigation agency to make Rs2 billion available.
In response to a comment, Mr. Ahmed claimed that the possibility of tendering resignations by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would act only as a sparkler and not a strategic atom bomb.
He said the opposition could come to the capital if it wanted to, but if it took an extreme turn, democracy would go into a dead end.
The Minister of the Interior said that the government wished to have a ‘good dialogue’ with the opposition, adding that the People’s Party of Pakistan embraced a democratic process and was actually in a better position.
He downplayed Bilawal Bhutto-blunt Zardari’s comments and said You must do this at rallies.”
Sheikh Rashid was of the opinion that with a constructive attitude, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif will carry politics forward.
Shehbaz was a man of unity, he added, pointing out that the resignations should be presented to the leaders of the party. Mr. Ahmed said that February was set by the opposition as the month to march on Islamabad.
“If they came early, it would be better,” he said. He said, however that Prime Minister Imran Khan needed to find a middle way out.