The last five years have been dedicated to politics against corruption and money laundering. Most of the conversations were geared around these two themes and these have become the criterion for upcoming elections as well. One of the parties championing this cause was the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), especially after the Panama case came to the forefront. However, Imran Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arab disregards the party’s own stance by getting close aide Zulfi Bukhari on a one time ticket out of Pakistan. Bukhari’s name had been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the recommendation of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and an investigation was going on to confirm his alleged ten offshore companies.
For such a person, who is currently being investigated by an institution of the country, to be able to get a clearance last minute on the airport showcases the amount of disregard for the laws of this country. Many - journalists, politicians, civil society activists, and the masses on social media - are rightfully angered by this move because it shows that the ideology of the party which claims a moral high ground is no different from the mainstream parties it demonises on the same grounds. NAB expressed serious alarm over the Ministry of Interior allowing Zulfi to travel. Legally the Interior Ministry is required to seek permission of the institution which placed the ban on the individual in case of a one-time visit permit, although it is not allowed. However, no such permission was sought, which is why the interim setup is being viewed with suspicion.
The caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk has demanded an inquiry report on why Zulfi Bukhari was allowed to travel because such special favors are not granted at the last minute, especially not to those under an investigation for offshore companies. There is absolutely no justification for the action and those disrespecting the legal barriers in place must be held accountable. The law should not be at the disposal of certain individuals, it should be applicable to all equally.