South Asia Tribune placed on Exit Control List
from NAB Web Site
Musharraf Asks US to Silence
His US-based Critics
M T Butt
July 22: The Editor of the South Asia Tribune, Shaheen
Sehbai, the Washington-based journalist and critic of Pakistani
General Pervez Musharraf, has been placed by the Government of
Pakistan on the infamous Exit Control List (ECL), which bans its
citizens to leave the country.
move comes as Pakistan’s intelligence agencies have made
an informal request to the US authorities to “contain”
some of the US-based Pakistani writers and journalists who criticize
the Musharraf Government “because they are harming Pakistani
efforts to fight the US war on terror."
ECL was up-dated on the web site of the National Accountability
Bureau (NAB) on July 14, 2005 and interestingly mentioned the
names of several sitting ministers of the Musharraf cabinet, including
the Interior Minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao himself, who is
basically incharge of maintaining and updating the ECL.
newspapers broke the story of latest ECL nominees, Aftab Sherpao
was so angry he ordered the NAB to remove the entire list from
its web site and that was quickly done. By the evening of July
20, the ECL was no longer available to the public, as in the past.
In the developments on the other track, some of those critics
Musharraf wants contained in the US include Washington-based scholar-diplomat
Husain Haqqani (left), a former police officer and author of a
recent book Boston-based Hassan Abbas (right), and a Wisconsin
University Professor Dr. Tarique Niazi, who writes scathing articles
in the South Asia Tribune.
California-based businessman and intellectual Khawaja Ashraf (left),
some American scholars including well-known Asia expert Steve
Cohen (right) and probably Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East
Institute are also on the hit list.
name of Shaheen Sehbai (left) was put on the ECL sometime in the
recent past but it appeared in the ECL on the web site of the
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) when it was up-dated on July
14, 2005. Click to view ECL, saved before
it was removed by NAB
provides the name and Pakistan and US addresses of the SAT
Editor as well as his passport number and places him in the company
of some important politicians including even some current ministers
of the Musharraf cabinet.
those on the ECL available on the web site of NAB are Interior
Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, Kashmir
Affairs Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat,
PPPP Leader Makhdoom Amin Faheem, Government PML-Q leader Nasrullah
Dareshak and many others in and out of the Government.
course the most prominent on the ECL are Benazir
Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Shahbaz Sharif, MQM
leader Dr Farooq Sattar, Rape Victim Mukhtaran
Mai and even Public Accounts Committee Chairman Malik Allahyar
of PML-Q and former NWFP Chief Minister Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan
Abbasi who recently traveled to a number of European countries
as a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
Interestingly some of those who
have left this world are still not allowed to leave Pakistan,
according to the NAB list. These unfortunate ones include Mian
Mohammed Sharif, father of Nawaz Sharif, former minister Abdus
Sattar Lalika and top terrorist Riaz Basra. A sick Begum Nusrat
Bhutto and Asif Zardari’s father Hakim Ali Zardari also
remain on the list.
observers, however, say the ECL has been turned into a joke by
the military Government as it is being used totally and exclusively
for persecution and harassment of political opponents of the regime
while those who support the army are allowed to travel even though
their names stay on the ECL.
The entire Sharif family was on
ECL but was forced out of the country, these observers point out.
Asif Zardari was permitted to leave without his name being struck
off, at least from the NAB list on the web site. Mukhtaran Mai
was permitted to leave the country under US and Western pressure
but her name is still there.
Dawn contacted Aftab Khan Sherpao, the Interior Minister
under whose jurisdiction the ECL is compiled and updated, to seek
an explanation as to how he himself and a fellow Minister Faisal
Saleh Hayat were on the list. The interior minister responded:
“Our names are not on the ECL.” Asked if he would
direct the authorities to make corrections in the list, the minister
replied in affirmative.
Dawn quoted a NAB official saying that the Interior Minister’s
name was put on the web site as cases were pending against him
in courts. The official, requesting anonymity, said the interior
minister’s name would be taken off only on the directives
of a court of law.
Asked why the Kashmir affairs
minister’s name was on ECL, the official said perhaps the
concerned officials had not updated the list as court cases against
the minister had been withdrawn.
Mukhtaran Mai still featuring on the NAB web site, the official
said the list was maintained by the interior ministry and the
government might have put her name on ECL. The official said NAB
got the names of only those people on ECL who had any corruption
cases pending against them.
if the NAB had the legal power to place a person’s name
on ECL or publish it on its web site, NAB spokesperson Nasir Jamal
said there must be some provision but he would have to check the
exact position with the legal department on Wednesday.
this ECL joke continues, a more sinister move by the Musharraf
Government is getting more attention in Washington. According
to sources the ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) have given several
names to the US intelligence agencies and other authorities to
“contain” some of the critics of the Musharraf Government
who are based on US as they are “harming Pakistani efforts
to fight the war on terror by attacking General Musharraf.”
name of South Asia Tribune Editor Shaheen Sehbai also
figures prominently on this list of US-based trouble-makers.
in Islamabad said by asking the US authorities to “contain”
these writers and intellectuals, the Pakistan Army wishes that
some of these Pakistanis should be handed over to Islamabad while
the US citizens be asked by the Washington Establishment to tone
down their attacks on General Musharraf in the name of serving
US National Security interests.
US reaction to this request is not yet known but experts say it
would be wishful thinking on the part of the Pakistani Generals
to believe that any US Government would link “political
dissent” and “criticism of General Musharraf”
to the war on terror and forcibly silence or expatriate these