ISLAMABAD: The prime minister’s son is in hot waters.
After suspending the transfer orders of the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) investigation team looking into the illegal sale of Ephedrine on Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued notice to the prime minister’s son, Ali Musa Gilani.
Hearing the high-profile Ephedrine case, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court asked investigators to continue their probe without relinquishing their charges. In a written order, the court also directed concerned authorities to allow a transparent inquiry, instead of hampering and obstructing it.
And judging by the preceding statements of the investigators, there have been plenty of attempts to influence the case.
Force commander ANF Regional Directorate Rawalpindi Brigadier Fahim Ahmad Khan revealed before the court that principal secretary to the prime minister, Khushnood Lashari, had warned him and other members of his investigation team against probing the involvement of the prime minister’s son in the case.
In his testimony, Brig Fahim also said that, when he refused to comply with Lashari’s orders, he was transferred along with his team.
“Ali Musa Gilani’s father is very upset and worried due to the summons issued to him … to spare Musa Gilani his (Isslah) will be done, this is a matter of national interest…if the ANF focuses on two pharmaceutical companies only and spares others, the ANF will be fully supported; both companies will be ruined and state machinery will be with you…” Brig Fahim quoted Lashari as saying.
He further revealed that Lashari told him that “you know that civil-military relations have recently improved … all depends on you (Brig Fahim) … to save […] from chaos and upheaval.”
The affidavit submitted by Brig Fahim stated: “He (Lashari) further said in a sarcastic manner and meaningful expression that the ANF is being commanded and controlled by army officers.”
Brig Fahim informed the court that the Investigation Officer (IO) of the case had sent notices and letters to Lashari, who is also the former health secretary, to record his statement.
“In response to the notices, I along with Joint Director ANF Lt Col Syed Touqir Abbas Zaidi and IO Abid Zulfiqar, who is also deputy director ANF, went to Lashari’s office on March 24, 2012, and on the desire of Lashari and his assurance to bring real facts to light, I had a separate meeting with him in his office,” said Brig Fahim.
He further added that he discussed the matter with him in a threatening manner during the meeting “because being one of the prime abettor/associate/facilitator in the case, he wanted to make full use of his present office to suppress/distort/misdirect the investigation against himself and Musa Gilani.”
The brigadier also contended before the court that “…Since then, many prejudiced, unfair and unwarranted actions have been taken by different state departments, which confirms the practical manifestation of the above mentioned threats and his heinous/malicious design to sabotage the investigation by one way or another.”
During Tuesday’s hearing, the ANF also requested the interior ministry to add Musa Gilani’s name to the Exit Control List. ANF officials also informed the court that the narcotics secretary was trying to protect Musa Gilani.
The chief justice observed that they were dealing with a sensitive issue and needed to tread carefully.
The court also issued notices to the attorney general of Pakistan, former ANF DG Major General Shakil Hussain, the health secretary, and executive directors of both pharmaceutical companies and adjourned the case till April 20.
In its order, the court observed that “prima facie, we are of the opinion that transfers/postings of Major General Syed Shakeel Hussain; Brigadier Fahim Ahmed Khan ANF and Deputy Director ANF Abid Zulfiqar, in colorable exercise of powers, are not free from extraneous consideration.”
Under the Anti Narcotics Force Act 1997, the posts of director-general and field directors are normally held by the serving defence personnel of the ranks of major general and brigadiers, respectively. However, the Establishment Division, Cabinet Secretariat and the government by means of notifications dated April 6, 2012 repatriated Major General Syed Shakeel Hussain, the then ANF director-general, and appointed Zafar Abbas, acting secretary of the Ministry of Narcotics Control, as the additional charge of the post of director general.
The case regarding the illegal sale of Ephedrine was registered on October 10, 2011, after two pharmaceutical companies — Danas Pharmaceutical Limited and Berlex Lab International – were accused of obtaining export quotas for the drug in collusion with health ministry officials that exceeded the limits fixed by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
The INCB had fixed an annual quota of 22,000 kilogrammes of ephedrine for Pakistan for 2010-11, but the Ministry of Health, following its devolution, allocated a quota of around 31,000kg of the drug. Later, the ANF’s investigation had allegedly established a direct link between Musa Gilani and the multi-billion drug scandal.
(Read: Let justice be served)
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.
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