Gilani stopped from leaving country

Immigration counter at Islamabad airport tells his staff that ex-PM’s name is on PNIL


Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday was prevented at the Islamabad New Airport from leaving for Italy – where he had to attend a conference – as he was not given clearance by the authorities to exit the country as his name was on the Provisional National Identification List (PNIL).

The protocol staff accompanying the former prime minister left the airport after his passport was checked.

His sons and PPP leaders expressed their annoyance over the development.

The PPP leader’s son, former MNA Syed Ali Musa Gilani, wrote on Twitter that the government had stopped his father from proceeding to Italy on the invitation of the Italian government to represent the country at a climate summit.

“This is how we treat our leaders, our ambassadors and this is the image of tyranny and oppression that we project to the world,” he added.

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Musa maintained that his father had spent more than five years in jail due to a false case fabricated by a dictator.

“[Gilani] went on to represent the country as PM for more than four years and since then in almost a decade of unprecedented victimisation, not even a single case has been proven against him,” he added.

“In the age of innocent until proven guilty and in a self-proclaimed democracy, the leader of the opposition is not allowed to represent Pakistan and lead the delegation of parliamentarians at an international conference. Such is the democracy we live in!”

Musa maintained that tools like the exit control list (ECL) only made “the tyrants of today look weak and deprive Pakistan of badly needed statesmanship at the international arena”.

The PPP leader’s other son, Qasim Gilani, said his father’s staff was told at the airport’s immigration counter that his name was on the ECL.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said the Senate opposition leader was heading for Rome to lead a Pakistani delegation of MNAs and senators at a meeting of Inter-Parliamentary Union.

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“Convicted criminals are allowed to leave the country, but there are restrictions on PPP leaders,” she said, adding that Gilani wanted to represent the country in front of lawmakers around the world but was refrained from doing so.

She questioned if one former prime minister was allowed to leave the country despite his name being on the ECL, then why not another.

Gilani’s name was placed on the ECL for the first time in 2013 on National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request following the surfacing of the former chairman of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) Tauqeer Sadiq’s CNG scam.

Later in 2019, the PPP leader was again stopped from leaving the country from Lahore to South Korea where he was scheduled to attend a conference.

In the same year, he was allowed to travel to Cambodia after the interior ministry removed his name from the ECL.