The federal government has removed the names of over 65,000 individuals from the Exit Control List (ECL) and the passport blacklist. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan made the announcement on Wednesday and said that a separate policy would be formulated for foreigners in the near future.
According to a break-up given by the minister, 4,987 names had been deleted from the ECL and only those individuals had been retained who had been on the list for less than three years, or those who were: involved in anti-state activities or terrorism; linked to proscribed organisations; placed on the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act or those who had been placed on the list at the orders of the superior judiciary. In addition, he said, the names of 59,603 persons had been removed from the passport blacklist, of that 22,491 names were deleted, 9,660 were shifted to the Passport Control List (PCL) and 27,452 were placed on the Visa Control List (VCL). He said that in the future individuals would be placed on the ECL and on the recommendations of defence institutions, intelligence agencies or the superior judiciary.
Those linked to proscribed organisations, accused of drug trafficking or those involved in espionage-related activities would never be allowed to travel abroad, he added. “The ECL is not a joke,” the minister said, adding, “Unfortunately, many people had been barred from proceeding abroad over petty domestic issues.” There was no rule or policy in place for putting people on the no-fly list, he said, lamenting that several respectable people had been on the ECL since the 1980s. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said a new system would also be introduced next month in Rawalpindi and Islamabad to deliver passports to applicants’ doorsteps. Applicants would be kept informed about passport delivery via SMS messages and would not have to visit the passport office again and again.