Courts on Wednesday asked the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officers to not harass owners of pharmaceutical companies and former secretary of narcotics ministry Zafar Abbas Lak, a key suspect in the ephedrine scandal.
The Supreme Court, hearing the case at its Quetta registry, asked the ANF and NAB authorities to submit a comprehensive report by September 12. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, however, told authorities to refrain from “embarrassing” owners of pharmaceutical companies implicated in the case.
Hearing a petition filed by PML-N leader and MNA Hanif Abbasi, another key accused in the case, the court was told that owners and employees of these companies had been “terrified.” Addressing ANF’s counsel Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood, Justice Chaudhry stressed on the need to carry out transparent investigations and warned against “needlessly terrifying anyone.”
In another hearing held at the Lahore High Court on the same issue, a two-member Rawalpindi bench issued notices to ANF authorities to respond to Lak’s petition in which he has accused the force of harassing him. The court directed the ANF officer investigating the case to submit a written reply by September 20.
Lak, who is now the Inspector General of Motorways Police, maintained earlier that he was summoned by ANF investigators even though he has nothing to do with the illegal allocation of ephedrine to local companies. He also lamented why officers wanted to place him on the exit control list (ECL) and urged the court to drop any further proceedings against him.
Lak argues he is innocent since he was appointed after the case, regarding the illegal allocation of ephedrine, was registered in October. Former director of Danas Pharmaceutical Company on the other hand alleges Lak’s appointment was made to hush up the case.
Meanwhile, the bench also issued notices to the interior secretary to respond to another related petition filed by ANF by September 20. ANF commander Brigadier Faheem Ahmed said they have moved the ministry to place as many as 15 accused, including Ali Musa Gilani, Makhdoom Shahbuddin, Zafar Lak and Khushnood Lashari on the ECL, but no action has been taken by the department so far. Ahmed fears the accused will flee the country to evade arrests.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.