Reports that charges are to be framed against Dr Asim Hussain under Sections 201/202/216/216(A)/409/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and R/W 6 (7)a-21 (I)-21 (J) of the Anti-Terrorism Act are to be cautiously welcomed if substantiated. However, they may be viewed with concern if they are not a part of an equitable and cross-party battle against terrorism and corruption. It is further reported that Dr Asim and Sindh minister Sharjeel Memon have been placed on the Exit Control List. Mr Memon is currently in Dubai recovering from surgery and claims he will return to Pakistan.
It will be recalled that Dr Asim is a close associate of ex-president Asif Ali Zardari and a PPP stalwart. He was the federal petroleum minister in the previous PPP government and has been in the custody of the Rangers since his arrest on August 26, 2015. Dr Asim is accused of providing medical treatment to MQM workers and gangsters from Lyari at hospitals he owns — which raises an interesting ethical question as his lawyers pointed out when speaking to a private TV channel on November 26. Dr Asim would be in contravention of his Hippocratic oath were he to refuse treatment either directly or indirectly, and is further bound by patient confidentiality when it comes to revealing details of those he has treated and for what.
Ethical questions aside, there are matters that the National Accountability Bureau wishes to talk to Dr Asim about, involving both corruption and funding for terrorist outfits — neither of which fall within the protective ambit of the Hippocratic oath. These are potentially serious matters if found to be of substance and supported by irrefutable evidence.
Were similar investigations to reveal that there was corruption within the ruling party, or suspicious contact with and support for any terrorist group, then we hope that they would be pursued with the same diligence as is the case with matters pertaining to the PPP and the MQM. The PML-N cannot be seen to be above the law any more than any other party. We await with interest.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2015.