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ISLAMABAD: A control of narcotics substances (CNS) court on Wednesday sought a report from the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) on the freezing of assets of suspects in the ephedrine case.

The court sought the report after suspects, including Ali Musa Gillani – son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani – revealed that he could not draw funds from his bank account because it had been frozen on the directions of the ANF.

Other suspects, including former health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and owners of pharmaceutical companies, have also complained that their bank accounts have been frozen.

In 2012, the ANF filed an application in the CNS court and wrote to revenue offices and banks seeking to temporarily freeze the assets of suspects in the ephedrine case.

However, the suspects had challenged the freezing of their assets, and the court accepted their plea and ordered that their bank accounts and other properties be unfrozen.

The case, regarding the illegal sale of ephedrine, was registered after two pharmaceutical companies – Danas Pharmaceutical and Berlex Lab International – were accused of obtaining export quotas for the drug, in collusion with health ministry officials, that exceeded the limits fixed by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

In 2010, Ali Musa Gillani was accused of influencing health ministry officials to allocate a quota of controlled chemical ephedrine, reportedly worth Rs70 billion, to two different Multan-based pharmaceutical companies.

In addition to being used in medicines, the substance is also used in the manufacture of recreational drugs.

The Gillani family has always pleaded innocent, claiming Ali Musa Gillani had nothing to do with the case and that the family and the PPP were being politically victimised.

ANF’s investigation, however, had allegedly established a direct link between Ali Musa Gillani and the multi-billion rupee drug scandal.

Former director general health Dr Rasheed Jumma, in his statement, had accused both Ali Musa Gillani and Mr Shahabuddin of pressuring him to convert the export quota so that 9,000 kilograms of ephedrine could be used for local consumption in 2010.

Two pharmaceutical companies allocated huge quantities of ephedrine, in excess of their quotes, and neither kept a record of the consumption of the controlled substance.

The CNS court will resume hearing the case on Sept 28.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2017

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