ISLAMABAD: The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) will soon begin a probe into Pakistan’s import of controlled substance Ephedrine beyond its stipulated international quota for the year 2010, a senior official in the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) told Dawn.
“A report by the INCB indicates that they are going to carry out investigations in Pakistan about an unusual increase in the use of Ephedrine in Pakistan during the year 2010. Various international reports have concluded that there was something seriously wrong here and international investigations are going to be conducted soon,” said Colonel (retd) Syed Akhtar Abbas, Director Legal of the force in an exclusive interview to DawnNews.
The Ephedrine scandal allegedly involves Ali Musa Gilani, son of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who is being probed for his alleged role in the illegal allocation of quota for the chemical’s import.
According to Abbas, Pakistan imported over 31,000 kgs of the Ephedrine against its internationally determined need of 22,000 kgs for the year 2010. He said the national quota limit was violated when a pharmaceutical company from Multan, namely Berlex Labs, was allocated a quota of 6,500 kgs out of which only 100 kgs was used in manufacturing tablets while the rest went missing. Similarly, another company from Islamabad, Danas Pvt Ltd, was allocated a quota of 2,500 kgs out of which only 50 kgs was found used in manufacturing medicines while the rest went missing, he added.
It appears the rest of the imported controlled substance was illegally smuggled, said Abbas, adding that, as per the investigation, approximately Rs.7 billion had been profited from the smuggled chemical.
The INCB, in a 2011 report published on its website, said that it was “increasingly concerned about the diversion and attempted diversion of Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine in Pakistan that began emerging in 2010.”
The report further notes that “two attempted diversions in 2010 of pharmaceutical preparations containing Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine in the amounts of 6,000 kg and 7,200 kg, respectively. The shipments were destined for Iraq; however, authorities there informed the Board that the importing company was neither registered with the government nor authorized to import either substance.”
ANF official Akhtar Abbas further accuses Ali Musa Gilani of complicity in the Ephidrine scam, alleging that the former health secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari allocated quotas for the proscribed drug on the directives of the PM’s son.
“Documentary evidence shows that Lashari, in the presence of Ali Musa Gilani, used to allocate quotas for Ephedrine. It can be safely assumed that this (Ephedrine) was issued for him (Ali Musa Gilani),” said Abbas in the interview.
The Supreme Court had earlier issued a notice to Ali Musa Gilani. The PM’s son, who had flown to South Africa before the issuance of the notices, has claimed of being wrongly implicated in the case.
According to his lawyer on Sunday, Ali Musa Gilani will be returning home from South Africa to attend the SC’s hearing in the ephedrine import case on April 19.
“Musa Gilani is returning to join the Supreme Court proceedings on April 19,” said Fawad Chaudhry, counsel for the prime minister’s son.
Chaudhry said a team of legal experts would accompany Gilani to the court to defend allegations against him. Moreover, he said there was no truth in the allegations as three men had been “arrested using Gilani’s name to deceive the people of Bahawalpur, Multan and Kharian”.
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