ISLAMABAD: Federal interior secretary removed Zulfi Bukhari’s name from the blacklist, after which he was allowed to leave for Saudi Arabia along with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan, sources said.
Imran, who went to Saudi Arabia for Umrah, was adamant on taking Zulfi to Saudi Arabia and waited three hours for him at the airport. Zulfi was eventually allowed by immigration authorities to leave the country.
It must be noted that the interim federal interior minister Azam Khan is a member of the board of Imran Khan Foundation. The foundation’s website shows the same.
The London-based businessman was granted a one-time permission (OTP) by the Interior Ministry to perform Umrah and return in six days, despite his name being on the blacklist. It has now emerged that his name was removed from the blacklist.
On Monday, Bukhari was stopped from flying to Saudi Arabia along with Imran Khan.
However, a few hours later following the Interior Ministry’s notification, Bukhari along with Imran and his wife, Bushra Maneka, departed for Saudi Arabia via a charter flight from Nur Khan airbase.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Wednesday sent a report to the Prime Minister’s Office over allowing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan’s close friend Zulfi Bukhari to travel abroad.
The MoI, on the recommendations of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which is investigating him since December 2017 after his name appeared in the Panama Papers, had included Zulfi Bukhari’s name to the Blacklist category which barred individuals from leaving abroad.
According to interior ministry sources, the report states that persons on the blacklist are not given one-time permission (OTP) to travel abroad. If such permission is to be considered, the MoI requires recommendations from the institution on whose request the individual was placed on the list by the ministry.
A change in law in 2015 made the ministry of interior responsible for maintaining a list and placement of an individual on blacklist. For an individual to have himself delisted, he has to submit a request to the ministry, after which a designated committee on the matter takes decision.
If the institution on whose request the person was blacklisted permits, only then can the ministry delists it.
Sources added that Zulfi Bukhari’s name was placed in Category B of the blacklist and MoI sought no opinion from the NAB before allowing him to go abroad.
Sources further informed Geo News that NAB expressed serious concern over the matter, after it was not approached by MoI.
Geo News tried to contact high level officials in NAB as well as the interior ministry but the authorities failed to respond.
Zulfi bukhari also didn’t comment either when he was approached on the matter.
The caretaker prime minister earlier sought a report over granting of permission to Bukhari to travel abroad.