The Control of Narcotic Substances court has ordered the confiscation of assets owned by former prime minister’s principal secretary Khushnood Lashari and the heads of two pharmaceutical companies for their alleged involvement in the infamous ephedrine case.
The court took the decision after Lashari and the heads of the pharma companies – Berlex Lab International, Multan, and Danas Pharmaceutical, Islamabad – didn’t show up before the judge on Saturday and declare their assets.
Apart from Lashari, the assets of Berlex pharma’s chief executive Iftikhar Khan Babar and Danas pharma’s directors Col (retd) Tahirul Wadood Lahoti and Rizwan Ahmed Khan will be confiscated on the court orders.
Earlier during the proceedings, Ali Musa Gilani’s counsel Chaudhry Faisal Hussain submitted the details of assets and sources of income of his client’s wife and brother. Hussain told the court that Ali Musa had Rs1.53 million in his account while his brother Abdul Qadir Gilani and wife Fouzia had Rs444,000 and Rs27,226 in their accounts, respectively. The lawyer also sought to distance Ali Musa’s father, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, from the case saying that the latter had no role in the illegal allocation of the ephedrine quota.
Former federal minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin’s counsel Abdul Rasheed Sheikh also declared the assets of his client during the hearing. He told the court that Shahabuddin’s sole source of income was the agricultural land he owns. He added that his client inherited his wealth and property from his ancestors.
The case was adjourned till July 30.
The case came to light last February when the Supreme Court pointed out the involvement of high-profile politicians in the illegal allocation of around 9,000 kilogrammes of ephedrine to the two pharma companies and its conversion for sale in the local market.
Those accused in the case include Ali Musa, Shahabuddin and Lashari, their families and other officials of the health department. The CNS court commenced proceedings against Shahabuddin, Ali Musa and Lashari on March 8. The nine accused were summoned and warrants were issued repeatedly for the arrest of Lashari and alleged frontmen Tauqir Ali Khan and Syed Anjum Shah – the two were charged with procuring the ephedrine for Berlex and Danas.
The prosecution maintained that Khan acted as a frontman for Ali Musa, while Shah acted on behalf of Shahabuddin.
According to the ANF, Danas and Berlex pharma companies obtained 9,000kg quota of controlled chemical ephedrine from the health ministry for export to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010. The two companies allegedly used the ephedrine meant for export for local consumption, and later smuggled the controlled substance to Iran, via Quetta and Karachi, pocketing Rs7 billion in the process.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.