A few days back, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) alarmed the parliament when it revealed that apart from the Exit Control List (ECL), there was another list, the self-designed Provisional National Identification List (PNIL), through which citizens were barred from travelling based on security risks. On Wednesday, FIA representatives appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights to answer the very dire questions asked about the increasingly murky placement of names on the ECL and PNIL, but the answers have not really clarified how one is constituted to be a security threat, nor did the appearance before the Senate relieve any concerns about the draconian PNIL.

According to the FIA Director, the PNIL procedure was designed to bypass the lengthy process of putting such people on the ECL. Placing names on the ECL regularly takes 30 days, since placement on the ECL requires getting approval from several departments. According to the FIA Director-General, cases such as those of the US Diplomat who flew back after a hit-and-run accident could have been handled much better had there existed a faster route to barring travel for suspected offenders. PNIL allows for placement of names without hassle or approval.

This justification did not satisfy the parliamentarians, nor should it should appease the rest of us. The FIA’s comments on PNIL being formed because of urgency does not ring true, since we have seen random and fast placement of names on the ECL many times. Even if the urgency argument is true, it still doesn’t justify a State Department monitoring citizens on a blacklist without any legal authority or clear criteria. To do so would be to go against the writ of state and the fundamental human rights of privacy and movement that the country guarantees us- it is hoped that the parliament takes the creation of PNIL very seriously.