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Ephedrine case: Elections change fortunes

June 11, 2013

RAWALPINDI, June 10: Elections change the fortunes of politicians in many ways and the May 11 elections changed it for worse for a son and a cabinet colleague of the former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and several others.

Just four days after the elections, the ministry of interior accepted a long pending request of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and put the names of Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a former federal minister, Ali Musa Gilani, son of Yousuf Raza Gilani, and his former principal secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari and six others on the Exit Control List (ECL).

This was disclosed by the ANF in a Control of Narcotics Substances Court when it heard the 2010 ephedrine case against the nine accused on Monday.

The ANF had been pressing for a ban on the accused’s travel abroad since August last year.

When the ministry, then under the PPP-led coalition, did not act on its request, the ANF petitioned the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench the same month to seek an order for the same.

Asked by Dawn about the ministry’s post-election change of heart, its spokesman, Umer Hameed Khan, replied that he was new to his job and did not know much about the case.

An official of the interior ministry, however, said the former PPP government resisted the move and pressured ministry officials to sit on the ANF request.

During Monday’s hearing of the ephedrine case, Ali Musa Gilani’s counsel, advocate Faisal Hussain, submitted an application for exempting his client from personal appearance because after the abduction of his younger brother Haider Gilani, Musa Gilani also was facing the same threat.

He said that Musa Gilani had written letters to the chief secretary and the inspector general of police of Punjab for providing him necessary security but their response was still awaited.

After listening to the initial arguments of the counsel, the court issued notice to the ANF and adjourned the proceedings till June 22.

Advocate Faisal told Dawn that Musa Gilani’s name had been wrongly put on the ECL. He said that it was a case of ‘no recovery’ as the prosecution had no material evidence against any of the accused persons.

“After joining the investigation of ephedrine case in March last year, Musa Gilani thrice went abroad and returned home. There was no need of placing his name on the ECL,” he said.

Asked for his comments, Abdul Rasheed Sheikh, counsel for Makhdoom Shahabuddin, said that the matter relating to putting the names of the accused persons was pending in the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench and the interior ministry acted hastily instead of waiting for the outcome of the ANF petitions.

He said he would file a petition against barring his client from visiting abroad.

Others accused in the case, in which ephedrine was allegedly illegally supplied to pharmaceutical firms, include former director general health Asad Hafeez, deputy drug controller Abdul Sattar Sorani, and the directors of pharmaceutical companies who were allocated 9,500 kg ephedrine in 2010.