ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government on Tuesday rejected a plea by powerful political heiress and opposition leader Maryam Nawaz to remove her name from the country’s no-fly list, as she sought to travel to London to visit her ailing father and the country’s thrice former prime minister convicted in a mega corruption case.
“The federal cabinet has unanimously decided not to remove the name of the renowned person (Maryam Nawaz) from the Exit Control List (ECL),” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on information and broadcast, told reporters after the cabinet’s meeting.
The decision comes after the Lahore High Court directed the government to decide on Maryam’s petition for one-time permission to travel abroad to see her father.
Maryam is currently on bail in a corruption case, and her name has been on the country’s no-fly list since August on request of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s anti-corruption agency.
The government’s decision, Awan said, “follows the Constitution and law.” She added the federal cabinet has endorsed a sub-committee’s decision made earlier this week to reject Maryam’s plea.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), of which Maryam is the vice president, has expressed “disappointment” over the government’s decision. Her lawyer will file a court appeal on Dec. 26.
“We were not expecting a favorable decision from the government,” PML-N chairman Raja Zafar-ul-Haq told Arab News. “The government should have shown magnanimity and removed Maryam’s name from the ECL on humanitarian grounds,” he said.
Last month, the court allowed Sharif to travel abroad for four weeks on medical grounds. The former prime minister is on bail in corruption cases, in which he was sentenced to seven years in prison. He left for London on Nov. 19. The four-week period can be extended on his doctors’ recommendation.
According to legal experts, Maryam is now left with “meager legal options” to get her name off the no-fly list.
“The court in some cases may direct the government to remove somebody’s name from the ECL on the basis of a genuine reason,” advocate Sharafat Ali told Arab News.
“Maryam’s plea to fly abroad just to see her ailing father doesn’t constitute a genuine legal basis for the court to grant her permission,” he said, adding that it is nevertheless within the court’s discretion, and much will now depend on how Maryam’s legal team will present the case.