KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Saturday discharged seven political leaders, including former federal minister Dr Asim, by allowing an application of the outgoing provincial government to withdraw a case pertaining to harbouring and treatment of militants at Dr Ziauddin hospitals against them.

PPP’s Dr Asim and former health minister Abdul Qadir Patel, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Amir Khan, former Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar and Rauf Siddiqui, Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaim Khani (who is now deputy convener of MQM-P) and Pasban’s Usman Moazzam were charged with treating and harbouring suspected terrorists, political militants and gangsters at the North Nazimabad and Clifton branches of Ziauddin Hospital.

On Saturday, all the leaders appeared before court on bail. The ATC-XI judge allowed the application filed by the Sindh prosecution department seeking withdrawal of the case registered by Pakistan Rangers Sindh in 2015.

“The judge allowed the prosecution department’s application filed under Section 494 (effect of withdrawal from prosecution) of the Criminal Procedure Code for withdrawal of the case against Dr Asim and others facing trial in the case,” defence counsel Shaukat Hayat told Dawn.

“The trial court’s verdict to discharge all the accused persons and subsequently acquit them came on the government’s plea to withdraw the case, instead of merits of the case,” he confirmed.

Rangers prosecutor had withdrawn his vakalatnama (power of attorney) during the trial, while Rangers Deputy Superintendent Inayat Durrani, who was complainant in the case, did not turn up to give his consent to the provincial government’s application despite issuance of repeated notices by the court.

In February this year, the PPP-led outgoing Sindh government had sought withdrawal of the case at a time when the trial was at a crucial stage of recording testimonies of the accused.

Special prosecutor Mohammad Younus had stated in the plea that the Sindh government intended to withdraw the case against all the accused persons and for that purpose, the court’s consent was required.

He produced an official letter dated Feb 16 addressed to Sindh Prosecutor General Faiz Shah by the provincial home department.

In the letter, a copy of which available with Dawn, section officer Aqeel Hussain Mako stated: “Competent Authority has been pleased to allow proposal for withdrawal of the case, with consent of the Court, as suggested by your office.”

Therefore, he requested the top prosecutor that the “concerned law officer of our department may be directed to seek consent of the trial court under Section 494 (effect of withdrawal from prosecution) of the Criminal Procedure Code for withdrawal of the case State v/s Dr Asim Hussain and others”.

The letter also stated that the prosecutor general had suggested to the home department to withdraw the case against the accused through a letter dated Jan 24.

The Rangers had arrested Dr Asim from his office in Clifton on Aug 26, 2015. The following day, the Rangers informed an ATC that he had been placed under three-month preventive detention for inquiry under Section 11-EEEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act, claiming that they had credible information about his involvement in using embezzled funds to finance terrorism.

Later, the paramilitary force handed him over to police after lodging a case against him and others for allegedly treating and harbouring terrorists and gangsters.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2023

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