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Tuesday Jul 03 2018

IHC reserves verdict in Zulfi Bukhari blacklist case


ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a petition filed against placement of Zulfi Bukhari’s name on a blacklist – an issue that arose when the London-based businessman attempted to leave for Saudi Arabia last month.

Bukhari, a close aide of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, was barred from leaving Pakistan when he proceeded to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah on June 11. Bukhari was later granted a one-time permission to go abroad for six days by the Interior Ministry.

Resuming hearing of the case earlier today, Justice Aamer Farooq questioned what law was in place regarding blacklisting of any individual.

It was requested to place [Bukhari’s] name on ECL, but he was instead placed on blacklist, the judge remarked, questioning why Bukhari’s name was removed from the blacklist after a phone call.

The judge further questioned how an individual with dual nationality could be blacklisted.

Deputy attorney general, in attendance during the hearing, informed the court that Bukhari’s CNIC, not passport, was cancelled. The judge then questioned the legal standing of the procedure, to which the official responded that the Interior Ministry had a standard operating procedure for such matters.

Bukhari’s counsel pleaded the court to remove Bukhari’s name from the blacklist, as his client’s business and family were based in Britain.

Justice Farooq, after listening to all the parties, reserved his verdict on the matter.

Bukhari earlier today expressed hope that the verdict would be in his favour, pointing out that the Interior Ministry had admitted there was no mechanism on placing a name on the blacklist.

The businessman further alleged that former interior minister had placed his name on the blacklist based on a personal agenda.

Bukhari’s counsel has previously argued that his client, a British national, left for Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah along with Imran Khan in a special flight from the Nur Khan Airbase when the Federal Investigation Agency informed him that his name was on the blacklist.

Caretaker Interior Minister Azam Khan last month admitted he granted permission to Bukhari to travel abroad. Azam said he was informed by the interior secretary that Bukhari wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah with the PTI chairman, but was stopped from leaving the country due to his name being on the blacklist.

The interior secretary further told him that Bukhari had submitted an affidavit stating that he would return to Pakistan, Azam said, following which he was granted permission to travel for six days.


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