ISLAMABAD - The government yesterday said it has deleted most of the names from the Exit Control List (ECL) under its new policy on international travelling.

The federal government yesterday came with the fresh figures and said it had deleted the names of around 10,000 persons from the Exit Control List (ECL) under its new policy on international travelling.

The interior ministry, which maintains the list that restricts Pakistanis from travelling abroad due to different reasons, says it has deleted names of 9,753 people since the new ECL policy was announced.

The drastic reduction in size of the ECL is an important step as it will provide relief to those thousands of people whose name were being kept on the list for years without any solid reason restricting their right to free movement. Earlier, there were more than 15,000 people on ECL.

Similarly, the ministry said that the names of 19,836 persons had been deleted from the Black List (BL), a list maintained by Passport Office about deportees and those persons who are wanted by the government in different crimes including forgery of travelling documents, human smuggling and passport offences.

However, the fresh figures issued by the ministry are contradictory to the earlier figures given by it through a notification on September 16, 2015. On that date, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had announced the new ECL policy and replacing the Black List with two new lists: Passport Control List (PCL) and Visa Control List (VCL).

According to the Sept 16 notification, a total 22,491 persons were deleted from Black List (BL) but yesterday the ministry said it had actually removed/transferred 18,936 names.

“The earlier figures were not exact as some persons were both on the ECL and the BL and fresh figures had been released after proper scrutiny of both lists,” an official of the ministry said.

The ministry views that no investigation agency can infringe any person’s basic right of free movement at will and put anyone’s name on ECL for an indefinite period of time. “A four member committee of the ministry will now decide to include any person’s name on the ECL after thorough investigation,” it said.

According to the Sept 16 notification, the government had cleared 59,603 names by abolishing BL and a number of names of the list had been transferred to newly formed Passport Control List (PCL) and Visa Control List (VCL).

The names of 9,660 persons, including deportees and those involved in passport related offences had been shifted from BL to the PCL. Moreover, 27,452 foreigners, who were denied visa facility under Visa Control Act or those who obtained passports illegally, had been shifted from BL to VCL.

The ministry through the new policy has only retained the names of those persons on the list whose period of replacement is less than 3 years and or those who have been placed for their alleged involvement in anti-state activities/terrorism, link with proscribed organisations, placed on 4th schedule or placed on the orders of superior courts.

The ministry setting the future parameters for the placement of names on ECL said in the notification that the recommendations of Supreme Court, high courts, tribunals having equivalent status, defence headquarters, federal investigations agencies, NAB, FIA and federal government would be followed in this regard.

The parameters that would be kept in hand before placement on ECL include: a) espionage, subversion, act of terrorism, conspiracy against state; b) any act pre-judicial to the integrity, security of defence of Pakistan; c) drug trafficking/human trafficking/money laundering; d) persons belonging to proscribed organisations; e) deserters from a defence or a security force or strategic organisation; f) economic crimes involving public funds and institutional frauds; g) tax/loan default or other state liability of more than 50 million or fraud in a public corporate entity (office holder as director) subject to certificate by referring authority that the fraud amount is Rs100 million or more that will be subject to satisfaction by a committee constituted for the purpose.

The placement on the ECL shall be regulated under the policy guidelines, including in cases where investigations are under way; and the period of placement shall be one year, which shall be subject to review by a committee in the interior ministry on the recommendations of relevant authority/agency.

Secondly, in other case the placement period on ECL cases shall be three years excluding terrorism, espionage, subversion, ATA (Anti-terrorism ACT) 4th schedulers, anti-state, narcotics and human trafficking cases.