Govt rejects Musharraf plea to be taken off ECL

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The federal government on Wednesday rejected an application from former President General Pervez Musharraf to have his name taken off the Exit Control List (ECL) so he can travel abroad.

Official sources confirmed the decision while not giving any reasons. The government reportedly is not keen on setting a precedent with such a move and there are some pending cases against Musharraf where the trial is underway.

After his indictment on Monday and a subsequent order of the special court that it has no jurisdiction to decide on his name being taken off the ECL, his lawyer had filed an application with the government.

The special court on Monday in response to a defence plea that Musharraf should be allowed to go abroad to meet his mother and for medical treatment said it was upto the federal government to take a decision. It was the federal government and not this court which had included Musharraf’s name in the ECL.

If the government has done that then it also has the power to review such a decision. The court had not passed an order to place his name on ECL and therefore the federal government cannot refuse to review its decision merely because of the pendency of this case, the order stated.

The court said it could not direct the authorities to remove his name since it was only a statutory court. The order also said that Musharraf was not in custody and his movements could not be restricted. He can get medical treatment at a facility of his choice.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting of his some of his cabinet ministers and party aides to discuss the matter and there was a difference of opinion on whether Musharraf should be allowed to leave the country or not. There are reports that Musharraf will get a safe passage on humanitarian grounds as part of a deal with the Saudi Arabian government which has been denied many times in the past.

The Saudi foreign minister had denied this saying it was Pakistan’s internal matter in a press conference during his recent visit.

Even the chief of army staff and the director general ISI met Mr. Sharif to discuss among other issues Musharraf’s situation.

On Monday, minister for information and broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid had said in the National Assembly that the government was willing to fly Musharraf’s ailing mother home from Sharjah, an offer that has been made in the past and rejected by the former president. It was clear from the government’s stand in the Assembly that it was not inclined to let Musharraf travel abroad.

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