Islamabad: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has said a complete investigation should be carried out before any Pakistani’s name is put on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The minister was addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday.
When questioned about Dawn staffer Cyril Almeida’s inclusion on the ECL, the interior minister said that he would have a meeting with senior APNS and CPNE officials in the capital regarding the matter.
Almeida’s name was added to the Exit Control List — preventing travel abroad — on Monday after he wrote a news report titled, “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military”.
“An attempt has been made to adversely impact a big national security paradigm, so there should be an inquiry,” the interior minister said.
“Indian media used the report saying that publication of the story verifies the Indian narrative of Pakistani dealings with non-state actors,” he said.
“The news is inaccurate. So who leaked this inaccurate news? It was published on the behest of someone, and that will be uncovered.”
“The inquiry will end in three to four days and then everyone will be allowed to travel freely,” he said.
“Had we not put the central character on the ECL, we would had been blamed for letting him go,” he said. “Whoever has leaked this news will be brought to justice, this I can guarantee to you. But how can that person be brought to justice, if we allow the journalist to leave the country?” he asked.
“We had no other option but to put his name on the ECL as he was travelling abroad the next day,” he added.
The Prime Minister’s Office has rejected the story thrice since it was published on October 6.
The minister also said that the government has launched online passport renewal service for the overseas Pakistanis.
Nisar Ali Khan said the overseas Pakistanis will now be able to get their passports renewed at their residences abroad.
The Interior Minister said e-service will be introduced in Pakistan within six months, and it will be ensured across the country in the next two years. The e-service will help check frauds in issuance of passports besides easy renewal of passports.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the government is making efforts to provide people the best services to acquire national identity card and passport in an easy way.
He said passport offices will be established in every district of the country.