Former PM offloaded from Bangkok-bound flight


LAHORE: Former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart Yousaf Raza Gillani was barred from flying to Bangkok on Tuesday night as his name was on the blacklist maintained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The former premier was prevented from boarding a Thai Airlines flight from Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport by FIA Immigration authorities.

According to reports, he was travelling to South Korea to attend an international conference along with former National Assembly deputy speaker Faisal Kareem Kundi.

Upon finding out that his name was on the no-fly list, Gillani expressed his anger at Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“Political revenge will not be good for PM Imran. I have been appearing before courts consistently and had informed the judges and relevant authorities of my foreign visit beforehand too,” he said.

Gillani is currently facing a corruption probe for running an advertising campaign allegedly in violation of rules and regulations.

Later in the day, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the episode. In a statement issued by the PPP Secretariat, Bilawal said restricting the movement of any citizen was tantamount to violating the fundamental rights. He asked for remedial steps to allow Gillani to travel abroad, adding that his party would play the role of active opposition in the parliament with regard to such issues.

According to a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), former PM Gillani, Midas Private Ltd CEO Inam Akbar and others allegedly ran an electronic media campaign for the Universal Service Fund (USF) on 32 television channels from April 14-22, 2012.

NAB later launched a probe into Rs150 million payments made by the USF to Midas Private Ltd. It also demanded a report from 32 channels. The Ministry of Information Technology former secretary Farooq Awan, the USF former CEO Riaz Ashar Siddiqui, the USF former secretary Hasan Shaikh, Midas CEO and the IT ministry’s former PRO Muhammad Hanif allegedly abused their authority and ran an ad campaign through Midas Private Ltd, causing heavy losses to the national exchequer.

According to NAB, the USF held its 26th board meeting in December 2011. The then prime minister, who was also heading the IT ministry and acting as the USF board chairman, directed to run the campaign.

It claims that former IT secretary Farooq Awan while abusing his authority ran the illegal campaign. Midas CEO violated the rules of the Press Information Department in order to run the electronic campaign. In order to get the campaign, no release order was issued by the IT ministry or the USF.



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