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Pak: Interior, defence ministers barred from leaving country

Last updated on: December 18, 2009 12:32 IST

The repercussions of the Pakistan Supreme Court's verdict declaring the amnesty law as 'unconstitutional' has started showing effects with the interior ministry placing the names of 253 beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, on the Exit Control List.

The latest move has thus barred Malik from moving out of the country. The names of other prominent people on the ECL include Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and Muttahida Qaumi Movement's Farooq Sattar, the Daily Times reports. According to sources, the interior ministry's move comes following a request from the National Accountability Bureau.

"According to an NAB list, corruption cases against 248 people had been withdrawn under the NRO. After the exclusion of the names of President Asif Ali Zardari and Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad, the tally goes down to 246. But the NAB also asked for the names of seven others, who are not on the NRO list, to be placed on ECL," said sources.

Following the apex court's decision, corruption cases against Zardari, Malik and other ministers are set to reopen and related documents have been sent to the concerned courts for further action.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar was barred from boarding a flight to China following his name appearing on the Exit Control List.

Mukhtar was stopped minutes before he was to leave for China along with other delegates on an official visit. The minister, along with his delegation, was scheduled to leave the country on PIA flight PK-852 for China, when he was stopped by Federal Investigation Agency staff, The Daily Times reports. The naval chief, who was part of his delegation, however was allowed to emplane.

The ministers are among thousands of people affected by Wednesday's court decision annulling as "unconstitutional" a 2007 amnesty that had protected Zardari and ministers from corruption charges.

The ruling has shaken the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government in Pakistan, with the Opposition demanding the resignation of Zardari and his entire cabinet.

The anti-corruption agency, National Accountability Bureau, said that scores of officials were now under investigation following the Supreme Court verdict, which means that up to 8000 graft and other cases dating back to the early 90s have or will soon be reopened.

President Asif Ali Zardari and several of his key ministers are among those who benefitted from the amnesty.

Zardari claims that he is protected by constitutional immunity from any criminal prosecution, but the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has challenged his eligibility to continue to hold office.

The NAB also asked the interior ministry to place the names of all beneficiaries of the NRO on the 'Exit Control List', a move that will bar them from travelling out of Pakistan.

Am NAB spokesman said 248 people had been included in the Exit List so far.

Corruption cases against Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Defence Minister Mukhtar were dropped under the NRO.

Both of them have said the charges against them were politically motivated. Mukhtar said he would challenge the corruption charges "against him".

Source: PTI & ANI

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