Dawn News

Ephedrine case: ANF to play court and jury

RAWALPINDI, Aug 22: The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) has finally included the names of three bigwigs — federal textile minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, former prime minister’s son Ali Musa Gillani and former principal secretary to the prime minister Khushnood Akhtar Lashari — in the column of accused persons in the much awaited fourth and final challan of ephedrine scam, which would be submitted to the court by the end of this month, Dawn has learnt.

Sources in the ANF told Dawn that after the submission of the final challan, the trial of the accused involved in the ephedrine case would be commenced in the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) court.

In January 2011, the devolved ministry of health started investigation of the alleged illegal allocation and local sale conversion of 9,500 kg controlled chemical ephedrine to the two pharmaceutical companies — Berlex and Danas — and the matter in September 2011 referred to the ANF.

So far ANF has submitted three interim challans to the control of narcotics substance (CNS) court in which none of the three bigwigs were nominated as the accused; neither their names were part of the FIR registered in the ephedrine case.

Col (retired) Akhtar Abbas, the ANF spokesman said that ANF was assigned the ephedrine investigation in September last year and the FIR of the case was registered on October 10, 2011.

He said the non-cooperation of the bigwigs was the main hurdle in the completion of the investigation and submission of the final challan.

He alleged that the influential accused persons were still not cooperating with the investigation team and the ANF would decide the submission of final challan to the trial court, after examining the outcome of the pre-arrest bail applications of the accused persons as the Lahore High Court (LHC) would take up their bail applications on August 27.

In the third challan, the ANF nominated 13 accused persons for their alleged involvement in the ephedrine scam.

These include Ansar Farooq, Rizwan Ahmed Khan and Col (retired) Tahirul Wadood Lahoti of Danas pharmaceutical company, Iftikhar Ahmed Khan the owner of Berlex pharmaceutical, Mohammad Hashim Khan Tareen of Cane pharmaceutical, Dr Rasheed Juma  former director general health, Tauqeer Ali Khan the alleged front man of Musa Gillani, Ehsanur Rehman, Chaudhry Abdul Waheed, Syed Tanveer Hussain Sherazi, Anjum Shah, Sheikh Ansar the drug controller and Abdul Sattar Sohrani the deputy drug controller.

According to sources, the names of Dr Rasheed Juma and Rizwan Khan would not be included in the column of accused persons of the final challan as they have been declared approvers.

Both the approvers in their statement linked the three bigwigs with the illegal allocation and local sale-conversion of ephedrine to the pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Juma a contractual DG of devolved health ministry in his approver’s statement recorded in the ephedrine case alleging that Musa Gillani and Khushnood Lashari were blackmailing him for allocation of 6,000 kg ephedrine to the Berlex pharmaceutical company.

He stated that Mr Lashari being secretary health and his immediate boss always reminded him that he was a contract employee of Musa Gillani and Lashari; deliberately kept pending the case of his extension in service and did not refer it to the prime minister because they wanted to use it as a tool of blackmailing.

According to the statement of Dr Juma, drug controller Sheikh Ansar was also an accomplice of Makhdoom Shahab, Musa Gillani and Lashari who were behind the allocation and local sale conversion of controlled chemicals to the pharmaceutical companies.

The second approver Rizwan Khan also alleged these three bigwigs of illegal allocation and conversion of 2,500 kg controlled chemical ephedrine to his company.

In his approver’s statement, Rizwan Khan stated that the ephedrine quota has been sold to narcotics smugglers who smuggled it to Iran via Quetta and Taftan.

He claimed that for the allocation and conversion of 2,500 ephedrine to Danas, the pharmaceutical company paid Rs6 million to Anjum Shah, an alleged agent of Makhdoom Shahab and claimed that Shah also introduced him and his other partners Ansar Farooq, Tahirul Wadood Lahoti and Abdul Waheed with Makhdoom Shahab and a parliamentarian Mian Abdul Sattar at the parliament lodges.

According to the ANF investigation, Col Lahoti introduced Rizwan Khan with Ansar Farooq, the chief executive of Danas.

Rizwan explained them in detail the process and financial benefits of ephedrine’s allocation and local sale conversion.

Rizwan then introduced them with Anjum Shah for allocation and conversion of 2,500 kg ephedrine who demanded Rs6 million from them and also told them that he would get the job done with the help of two parliamentarian-Mian Abdul Sattar and Makhdoom Shahab.

Out of 2,500 kg, the investigation revealed that Danas consumed only 25 kg in the manufacturing of medicine.

Rizwan, his cousins Ehsanur Rehman and  Hashim Khan the owner of Cane pharmaceutical prepared the fake manufacturing record of the ephedrine.

The investigators found that, Berlex and Danas, both the pharmaceutical companies claimed to consume 9,500 kg ephedrine in the manufacturing of 210 million and 80 million Meton tablets respectively but could not produce any evidence to prove their claims, adding that the companies sold the controlled chemical to smugglers.

The investigation also disclosed that Tauqeer Ali Khan the alleged front man of Musa Gillani told the pharmaceutical companies that he was living in the PM House and was also an employee of the camp office Lahore.

He was a frequent visitor of the offices secretary and DG health. Tauqeer Khan, according to the investigation, managed the sale and conversion of 6,000kg ephedrine to Berlex pharmaceutical, in order to expedite the process he also gave reference of Musa Gillani and some time back Gillani also talked to the officials through the phone.

The investigation revealed that the government machinery including the PM secretariat, the then principal secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari and secretary narcotics control Zafar Abbas Luk played an active role to rescue Musa Gillani in the ephedrine scam and also directed the ANF commander Faheem Ahmed Khan to exonerate Musa Gillani, despite the fact that the phone record of the office of the health secretary clearly established that Tauqeer Khan used to call Musa Gillani from health secretary’s official telephone.

According to the investigation, former secretaries’ narcotics control Iftikhar Ahmed and Sohail Ahmed had recommended strict action against the accused allegedly involved in the ephedrine scam.

Sources said that the final challan would be submitted before Eid but because of the pending bail applications of the accused, including Makhdoom Shahab, Musa Gillani and others the filing of challan has been deferred.

Shah Khawar, counsel of Makhdoom Shahab when contacted told Dawn that ANF could include the name of his client as well as other accused persons in the final challan but it is up to the trial court to evaluate the authenticity of the evidence and to examine their alleged involvement on the basis of available record, circumstantial and direct evidence, statements of the accused, co-accused and approvers.

He said the outcome of the pre-arrest bail of the accused persons, which are pending for adjudication in the Lahore High Court (LHC) is also very important because the court would decide the bail applications after examining the evidence which the ANF would also submit to the trial court.

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