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KARACHI: Former federal minister and chairman of the provincial Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Asim Hussain was reportedly detained by plain-clothed men allegedly belonging to an intelligence agency Wednesday.

HEC sources told Dawn that some 15 plain-clothed personnel arrived at the HEC office in three to four vehicles around noon today.

Dr Asim Hussain was chairing a meeting of the search committee for vice chancellors which was also attended by other high-ranking officials of the HEC. The meeting's objective was to select a new vice chancellor of the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) and it was taking place at the Karachi office of the HEC when the raid took place.

Personnel of the raiding team asked the attendees of the meeting to switch off their mobile phones following which the Sindh HEC chairman was whisked away to an undisclosed location.

DawnNews quoted NAB sources as saying that the former adviser to the Ministry of Petroleum was in the custody of the anti-corruption watchdog and that he might be shifted to Islamabad in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The sources added that NAB officials also conducted a raid on Karachi's Civic Centre to seize records of the properties owned by Dr Asim Hussain.

Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, talking to media personnel, condemned the reported detention of Dr Asim Hussain and said such measures could result in a disastrous outcome.

Responding to rumours, a spokesperson of the National Accountability Bureau Karachi had earlier said Dr Asim Hussain had not been detained by personnel from the anti-corruption watchdog.

Dr Asim is regarded as a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari. He was appointed federal petroleum minister during the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in 2008 and is currently serving as head of the HEC’s Sindh chapter.