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Ephedrine probe: International sanctions loom

September 12, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Sept 12: The interim bail of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader, Mohammad Hanif Abbasi, was extended for another week because of the non-availability of the bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi registry.

Meanwhile, two teams of International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) expressed concerns after getting briefing from Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) over ephedrine case.

LHC division bench comprising Justice Maqbool Ahmed Bajwa and Justice Ali Baqir Najafi on September 6 granted the interim bail till September 12 to PML-N lawmaker Mohammad Hanif Abbasi in ephedrine case.

The bench however dissolved on Wednesday as by the order of LHC Chief Justice another division bench comprising Justice Shahid Hameed Dar and Justice Maqbool Ahmed Bajwa was constituted to hear the land fraud case in which property tycoon Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz are also allegedly involved. Subsequently, the hearing on the pre-arrest bail of MNA Abbasi was also deferred till the next week.

Meanwhile, the two teams of International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) currently visiting Pakistan expressed serious concerns after getting briefing from the ANF authorities in their regional headquarters of Rawalpindi.

Sources in the ANF told Dawn that INCB team raised various questions from the ANF authorities as to why the devolved health ministry allocated 31 kg ephedrine to pharmaceutical companies and out of which a large quantity of the controlled chemical was misused and smuggled internationally.

During the briefing, INCB also expressed surprise on the involvement of high profile government functionaries in the misuse of ephedrine.

According to the sources, the INCB working under the mandate of the United Nations could recommend actions against Pakistan, including imposing economic sanctions and suspension of its membership for non compliance of the standard set for the utilisation of controlled chemicals.

ANF director legal, Akhtar Abbas confirmed that INCB team raised several questions to the ANF authorities in which misuse of ephedrine was their main focus.