Minister plays down Rana Sana’s bail in drug case

Updated Dec 26 2019

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MINISTER of State for Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi at the presser.—Online
MINISTER of State for Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi at the presser.—Online

RAWALPINDI: Statements issued by Minister of State for Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi and the Anti-Narcotics Force legal team regarding video evidence against former Punjab minister Rana Sanaullah added to the confusion related to the drug case against the PML-N MNA on Wednesday.

Both the state minister and the ANF legal team held separate press conferences just a day after the Lahore High Court granted bail to the Punjab president of the main opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, who had been arrested in the 15kg narcotics case on July 1.

While Mr Afridi claimed that he had seen the “footage” before the evidence was provided to the court, the ANF legal team was of the opinion that the video was not a piece of entire evidence, as the case would be decided on the basis of other evidence such as the seizure, chemical examination report, statements of investigating officer and 15 eyewitnesses. “In drug cases, seizure is important,” said Advocate Raja Inam Amin Minhas, leading the ANF team of prosecutors, while addressing a press conference following the presser of the state minister.

Shehryar Afridi says nowadays a ‘season of bail’ is on

The state minister told the media that one thing being connected to him was “video, video, video”.

“I had talked about the footage during my first press conference along with the ANF DG. But people made it a joke. Look at all my press conferences, whatever I spoke about the videos; I said that we have the footage,” he made it clear, adding that all the evidence including the footage had been provided to the court within 17 days of the arrest of Mr Sanaullah.

To make it more clear, Mr Afridi said had the video of the seizure been recorded, it would have been termed a ‘planted movie’.

However, at the ANF headquarters on Wednesday night, the head of prosecutors told the media that all the evidence would be presented in the court at an appropriate time. He said the prosecution was not delaying the case.

“In the trial court, the first bail application for Sanaullah was rejected in August. While they filed another bail application in the high court on October 3, they withdrew it claiming that they would file a fresh application. And now they filed a bail application in the Lahore High Court that led to his release on bail, but its complete order is yet to be announced,” explained Advocate Minhas.

He also said a complete challan of the case registered against Mr Sanaullah had been submitted on July 23, which was lying with the court. He said the challan comprised an FIR, recovered narcotics, statement of the investigation officer, statements of 15 eyewitnesses and chemical examination report. “All the evidence is enough to prove the drug smuggling case,” he added.

The prosecution team also said: “Video is not evidence in this case and the case can’t be decided on the basis of video only. He had been granted bail, not acquitted in the case. It is the discretion of the court to grant bail.”

In his statement, Mr Afridi also claimed that there had been “no interference” by the government or political victimisation of anybody, as the government respected the court decision and would continue to do so.

The minister further said he would give a statement on the bail after reading a detailed verdict on the bail granted to the PML-N leader. He said they would take the case to its logical end as ANF’s legal team had been working on it.

In reply to a question, Mr Afridi admitted that as interior minister, he had ordered search of files containing the drug smuggling allegations against Mr Sanaullah but no such file was found.

Mr Afridi said Sanaullah’s arrest came after three weeks of surveillance by the ANF. He said the ANF was a professional force. “We need to strengthen the institutions. Shehryar will come and go, the real thing is the institutions of Pakistan,” he said.

The minister said: “Rana Sanaullah’s bail does not matter much, [as] nowadays a ‘season of bails’ is on.”

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2019