The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) on Friday submitted a final charge-sheet in a trial court, accusing seven persons, including MNA Ali Musa Gilani and industries minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, of their involvement in the ephedrine scam. Former health secretary Khushnood Lashari and two others were declared absconders.
Apart from the two politicians, ANF Deputy Director Abid Zulfiqar, infomed Special Judge Control of Narcotics Substances that the involvement of former director general (DG) of health Dr Asad Hafeez, owner of Berlex Pharmaceutical company, Iftikhar Ahmed Khan, owner of Danas Pharmaceutical Company, Ansar Farooq, former deputy drug controller Abdul Sattar Surani and alleged smuggler Abdul Khaliq were also found during the course of the investigation.
Tauqeer Ali Khan, alleged to be the front man for Ali and Shahabuddin’s agent Anjum Shah were also declared absconders. All the accused had been granted bail by the courts.
ANF could not provide solid evidence against other suspects in the scam. It was left to the court to decide whether Federal Drug Controller Sheikh Ansar Ahmed, two the Multan-based companies chiefs — Cann Pharmaceutical Chief Executive Hashim Khan, Florence Pharmaceutical Chief Executive Ehsanur Rehman and Florence Director Abdul Waheed would be indicted.
According to the ANF, in 2010 the Islamabad-based Danas Pharmaceutical Company and Berlex Pharmaceutical obtained 9,000 kilograms quota of the controlled chemical from the health ministry for export to Iraq and Afghanistan. Later, they got the export quota converted for local consumption and allegedly smuggled ephedrine to Iran with the help of smugglers in Quetta and Karachi, earning Rs7 billion.
Former health DG Dr Rasheed Juma and Danas Pharmaceutical’s former director Rizwan Khan became approvers. According to their statements, they admitted that Danas and Berlex had been allocated huge quotas of ephedrine under pressure from Ali and Shahabuddin. The court adjourned the case till March 8.
Last June, an ANF magistrate had issued arrest warrants for Shahabuddin when he was in the process of submitting nomination papers for the prime minister’s slot after Gilani’s disqualification.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2013.