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Shaukat Yousafzai’s Travel Woes: Offloaded from Saudi Arabia-Bound Flight

Former PTI MPA Shaukat Ali Yousafzai was removed from a flight bound for Saudi Arabia at Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport on Wednesday morning.

Yousafzai, the ex-information minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, revealed to Dawn.com that he underwent detention at the airport for over two hours and was only released by officials after the plane had taken off. This incident occurred a day after his brother, Liaqat Ali Yousafzai, the PTI’s Shangla chapter president, was arrested by local police, along with six other party members, for allegedly violating Section 144. Notably, in July, Shaukat faced arrest, along with other PTI leaders, by Shangla police under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, but he was acquitted two months ago.

Yousafzai was supposed to go to Saudi Arabia for Umrah at 9:15 a.m. today on Emirates aircraft EK-637. Following the completion of the boarding procedure, he said that he was taken into custody “without any reason” by airport security personnel. In response to his question about why he couldn’t board the aircraft, the PTI ex-MPA said that the personnel had simply informed him that they had “orders from authorities to not let [him] fly abroad.” Yousafzai continued by threatening to file a lawsuit against the airport’s security personnel for dumping him, claiming that there was no first information report against him, and his name was not on the Exit Control List. He further stated that he would go before the Peshawar High Court.

Advocate Jawad Ali Noor, the general secretary of the Insaf Lawyers Forum’s Malakand division, verified the information to Dawn.com, affirming that Yousafzai’s return to the country was scheduled for November 30. Noor also mentioned that Yousafzai, upon arrival, was not informed by airport staff about any filed FIR against him. The ILF lawyer added that Yousafzai was released after 11:50 am, more than two hours after the plane’s departure. Yousafzai, elected as a Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) in the 2018 general elections from the PK-23 constituency and later appointed as the provincial information minister in the same year, currently holds the position of the PTI’s provincial senior vice president.

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