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Ephedrine case on its way out

January 23, 2013

RAWALPINDI, Jan 22: It looks like the last episode in the 16 months old ephedrine case, as the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Tuesday admitted a petition to quash the FIR in which the names of bigwigs had been included.

Even according to Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) officials who had built and pursued the case, admittance of the petition is a sign that the FIR would be quashed.

The petition to quash the FIR was filed by an accused in the case, Sheikh Ansar Ahmed, who had refused to become an ANF approver, through counsel Abdul Rashid Sheikh.

The case’s rigmarole

The case surfaced in February 2012 after the Supreme Court pointed out to political involvement in the alleged illegal allocation of 9,500kg ephedrine to two pharmaceutical companies and its conversion for sale in the local market.

Then in June 2012, arrest warrants were issued by the ANF magistrate for Federal Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin on the day he was submitting nomination papers for the prime minister slot.

Mr Shahabuddin had become a contender for the PM slot after Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified by the Supreme Court for refusing to write a letter to the Swiss Court with regard to NRO implementation case.

Advocate Sheikh, who is also the counsel for Makhdoom Shahabuddin, said that if the court quashed the FIR, the ephedrine case would meet its logical end and all the accused including Makhdoom Shahabuddin, MNA Ali Musa Gilani, son of Yousaf Raza Gilani, and former principal secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari would be exonerated.

He said that after the exoneration, those who had been implicated in the case would be free to file a damages suit against the Anti-Narcotics Force authorities for falsely implicating them in the case.

According to the counsel, there is no case as the investigators did not recover any ephedrine or narcotics.

While advocate Faisal Hussain, counsel for Musa Gilani, said: “Musa Gilani is out of the country and after his return, would definitely file an application to become a party in the petition seeking quashment of FIR.”

ANF stance

ANF prosecutor general Shahid Mehmood Abbasi admitted that if the court accepted the petition of Sheikh Ansar, there would be no case left against any of the accused.

“In such a case all the ANF efforts would be in vain and the accused persons would automatically be cleared of all the charges,” he added.

He, however, said that the ANF would pursue the case and fight it in the LHC and in the Supreme Court.

Chance petitioner  

On Tuesday Abdul Rasheed Sheikh, counsel for the accused Sheikh Ansar, informed the division bench comprising LHC Justice Mohammad Anwarul Haq and Justice Chaudhry Mohammad Younis that the ANF did not implicate Ansar in the ephedrine case until June 2012 when he finally refused to turn approver.

He said that the FIR of the case was registered in October 2011, the first challan was submitted to the trial court in February 2012, second in April 2012, and in both the challans the ANF did not include the name of the petitioner.

Advocate Sheikh alleged that the Anti-Narcotics Force had been pressurising his client from October 2011 to June 2012 to record statements against Makhdoom Shahab and Musa Gilani and after failing in their efforts, they implicated Sheikh Ansar in the case.

Further hearing of the case has been adjourned till a date to be fixed by the registrar office.