ISLAMABAD  -   Senate Standing Committee on Interior has asked for the review of the Federal government’s Exit Control List policy (ECL), stating it has many loopholes and is being used for victimisation of the citizens.

The Committee said that it would also come up with an actionable plan for the review of ECL policy after consulting all stakeholders.

The Committee that met in the chair of Senator Rehman Malik had especially included the issues arising out of the present ECL Policy on agenda of the meeting on the insistence of lawmakers. Any person once placed on ECL cannot fly abroad.

The Ministry of Interior briefed the Committee on ECL Policy that was discussed by the Committee to identify all the lacunas in it.

The chair said that present ECL policy had many loopholes and violates basic human rights.

“The Constitution ensures the fundamental human rights and freedom of movement of every citizen and restricting anyone movement without serious crime is a violation,” he said ,adding, that there should be a difference between an accused and a culprit. “The placement on anyone one’s name on ECL has itself become a punishment which is unacceptable,” he said.

Rehman Malik said that one must not be placed on ECL merely for the reason that an inquiry is initiated against him until one is not proven either guilty or court has not ordered to place his name on ECL.

He said that the Committee’s main concern is to make the ECL policy very clear as to how put and remove the names from ECL so we can facilitate the public through Parliament.

He said that nobody should be placed on the ECL during the inquiry and nobody should be included in ECL during investigation unless ordered by the trial court and Supreme Court of Pakistan.

He asked that all those names which have been included in the ECL for the last 3 years with no decision from any court may be removed from the ECL with immediate effect.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi said that the names of people are not excluded from ECL for years once included and thus the name of any person should be placed on ECL for a specific period of time.

His party colleague Senator Kalsoom Perveen said that the policy is being used for victimisation.

MQM Senator Atteeq Sheikh said that the Ministry does not inform any person that his/her name has been placed on ECL and he gets the information when he reaches airport to fly abroad.

The Secretary Interior admitted before the Committee that there is a need to amend the ECL policy as it has many loopholes and added it is present on the basic agenda of the new government.

He said that some changes have already been made in the policy.

For example, the Federal government means ‘Federal Cabinet’ so now Cabinet gives approval for placement of any person’s name on ECL instead of the Secretary Interior, he said.

When courts order to place any one on ECL, the order is implemented instantly. The Committee suggested that Secretary Interior should have the authority to place anyone’s name on ECL.

The Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) briefed the meeting about the progress made so far to develop the Cyber Borders Security Control System.

He said that they have been raising $2.5 million from cellular companies to buy the equipment needed for cyber protection. PTA Chairman said that they have already arranged $2.3 million.

Meanwhile, Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) Afzal Latif briefed the Committee on the organisational structure, function, working of the authority and its attached departments.

He said that in 2015 Municipal Corporation Islamabad (MCI) was established by the Federal government and CDA was having 18, 770 workers at that time. 

“As many 10,425 workers have transferred to MCI but their pays are still paid by CDA,” he said.

He informed the Committee that MCI had collected almost funds of Rs one billion but it was not able to utilise it due to lack of any procedure.

He said that many issues had arisen between CDA and MCI due to lack of coordination and clarity on the implementation policies.

Chairman Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik inquired about the issues related to establishment of the private housing societies in Islamabad and implementation of the bylaws in rural areas of the capital.

Senator Rehman Malik observed that the establishment of housing societies in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) was not part of the master plan of capital.  He while questioning the rapid increase in launching of illegal housing societies in ICT directed that a separate meeting on the issue would be held in which officials of FIA and NAB would also be asked to brief the Committee about illegal housing societies and actions taken so far.

He appreciated the CDA for conducting operation against encroachments on Kashmir Highway. However, he expressed his annoyance that why a disciplinary action was not taken against those officers who remained part of this illegal constructions.

The Committee directed that the matter of distribution of assets, resources and financial matters including administrative issues be resolved between CDA and MCI as due to their differences the residents of ICT are suffering very hard. 

The Committee also passed a resolution that strongly condemned the new wave of killings of innocent Kashmiris in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) by the Indian security forces.

The Secretary Interior, Chairman CDA, Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology, Director FIA’s Cyber Crime Cell and officials from Ministry of Law and Justice attended the meeting.