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Another accused becomes approver in ephedrine case

April 13, 2013

RAWALPINDI, April 12: The third accused in the ephedrine case has become an approver.

According to the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Tauqeer Ali Khan was the frontman of former MNA Ali Musa Gilani (son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani), and has now become an approver.

Before him, former director general health Dr Rasheed Juma and ex-director Danas pharmaceutical company have also turned approvers against the former federal health minister Makhdoom Shahabudduin, Musa Gilani and former secretary health Khushnood Lashari.

Last year, Khan became an absconder after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on April 3 dismissed his intra-court appeal seeking quashment of the warrants issued for his arrest in connection with the case related to the misuse of 9,000 kilogrammes of ephedrine.

A civil judge in Islamabad on November 14, 2011, had issued the arrest warrants of Khan on the request of Riaz Ali, an assistant director of the ANF.

According to the challan submitted by the ANF, Khan was the intermediary in the ephedrine scandal.

The scam came to light in March 2011 when the then federal minister Shahabuddin, while responding to a point of order, assured the National Assembly that a thorough investigation would be held into the alleged illegal allocation of ephedrine to two pharmaceutical companies – Berlex and Danas.

The ANF started a formal probe into the case on October 10, 2011. According to the findings of the ANF, Dr Rasheed Juma illegally allowed the allocation of the chemical. Another former director general health, Asad Hafeez, and the then secretary health Khushnood Lashari also allowed the allocation and sale of the chemical to the companies.

The challan said Khan was a frequent visitor to the office of the secretary health and was behind all the alleged illegal dealings.

The ANF arrested Khan on March 20 and on Friday submitted an application to the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) court for recording his approver’s statement.

CNS Judge Arshad Mehmood Tabassum decided that the statement of the approver would be recorded on April 15.

Advocate Faisal Hussain, the counsel for Musa Gilani, however, told Dawn that the ANF had no material evidence against the accused persons; therefore, they were convincing some of them to become approver against the politicians.

He said they wanted to stop his client Musa Gilani and Makhdoom Shahab from entering the parliament and were concocting fabricated evidence against them to disrupt their election campaigns.

“We would challenge the veracity of these so-called approvers,” he said, adding under the law the approver remained in confinement till the disposal of the case but in the ephedrine case all the three approvers have been set free.

Abdul Rasheed Sheikh, the counsel for Makhdoom Shahab, believed that the sudden arrest of Khan was part of the ANF plan.

“He returned from Dubai soon after the PPP government completed its five-year term. He remained in ANF custody and then turned an approver against Musa Gilani,” he added.

ANF spokesman Col Akhtar Abbas was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.