• Hanif Abbasi sent to Adiala after being jailed for life in ephedrine case
• Sheikh Rashid gets walkover in NA-60 as PML-N hasn’t fielded covering candidate
ISLAMABAD: Hanif Abbasi, a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was arrested and sent to Adiala jail on Saturday night after he was convicted by the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) Court of Rawalpindi and handed down life term in the case related to misuse of controlled chemical ephedrine.
Abbasi is contesting election against Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid from NA-60, Rawalpindi. The conviction of Abbasi will give Mr Rashid a walkover since there is no covering candidate of the PML-N in the constituency. The AML chief had regularly predicted in his speeches that Abbasi would be disqualified.
Earlier, three other PML-N candidates for National Assembly seats — Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of the party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif, from Lahore, her husband retired Capt Safdar from Mansehra and Danyal Aziz from Narowal — have been disqualified from contesting polls after being convicted; Maryam and Safdar in Avenflied properties reference and Aziz in a contempt of court case.
Following his conviction, officials of the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) arrested Abbasi on the premises of the CNS court.
The ANF had registered a case against Abbasi and his accomplices in June 2012 under Section 9-C, 14 and 15 of the CNS Act under which a convict may be awarded the death sentence.
The court, however, acquitted Mr Hanif’s brother Basit Abbasi and other accused in this case.
Earlier in the day the court reserved the judgement in the case, but later in compliance with the Lahore High Court’s order to announce the verdict before July 25 elections, CNS Court Judge Sardar Mohammad Akram Khan announced the order at 11pm.
On June 11, Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi of the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench had ordered the judge of the special court to announce its verdict by July 21 — four days before coming general elections. The trial court was also directed to hear the matter on a daily basis from July 16.
Shahid Orakzai, who is known to be a habitual litigant, had filed the petition seeking the daily trial of Abbasi and a decision in the ephedrine case before the elections.
Abbasi had filed an appeal against the directives of the LHC bench in a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed which was rejected on Friday.
The ANF had booked Mr Abbasi on the charge of misuse of 500kg ephedrine. The ANF in 2011 had registered another case against former federal minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Ali Musa Gilani, son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and others for alleged misuse of 9,000kg ephedrine, which is still pending before the CNS court of Islamabad.
Last month Mr Orakzai had filed objections against Abbasi’s candidature which had been dismissed by the returning officer as well as the appellate tribunal presided over by Justice Lodhi.
The CNS court on Oct 29, 2014 had indicted Hanif Abbasi and his brother Basit Abbasi, director of the former’s firm Grey Pharmaceutical and some employees of the company.
The co-accused in the ephedrine case had been charged under Section 14-15 of CNS Act for abetment in the said ‘crime’.
The challan included the statements of two employees of Arafaat Traders, the Karachi-based medicine distribution company, to which Abbasi claimed to have supplied 11,000 ephedrine-containing tablets. The employees of the distribution company denied Abbasi’s claim, the challan said, though the same company had earlier told the ANF that Abbasi had provided them ephedrine-containing tablets.
The challan also incorporated a statement of Razia Bakhtawari, the owner of D-Watson Chemist, who contradicted the statement of Abbasi about supplying the ephedrine-containing medicine to her outlets.
Last year Abbasi had requested the CNS court for an early verdict in the case. The ANF, however, had dragged the case as it had launched an investigation into financial transactions and bank accounts of Abbasi and his family members.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan has said that another PML-N man is going to Adiala jail because the judiciary is strong and independent. He said that former ministers Ishaq Dar and Khwaja Saad Rafiq were also involved in some scandals.
In his reaction, Shaikh Rashid said that he was not happy over the court decision but it was expected as “you sow so shall you reap. “Hanif Abbasi was involved in the drug trade and he should face the results,” he said.
Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2018