JUL 21, 2018: Former MNA and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) politician Hanif Abbasi was given life imprisonment in the ephedrine quota case by an anti-narcotics court in Rawalpindi on Saturday night. He stands disqualified for life from running for public office and will not be able to contest the polls on July 25 following the court decision.
The former lawmaker who owns a pharmaceutical wholesale business was arrested from the premises of the court soon after the sentence was announced. He was contesting elections against Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid from NA-60 (Rawalpindi).
The court, however, acquitted seven other accused in the case.
Initial reports suggest Abbasi will be sent to Adiala jail, the same prison where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are serving their sentences in the Avenfield corruption reference, The Express Tribune reported.
Abbasi was taken into custody by Anti-narcotics Force from the courtroom soon after the judgement was announced. The supporters of PML-N leader did try to hinder Abbasi’s arrest and offered some resistance.
Shahid Orakzai, the petitioner in the case, had filed objections to Abbasi’s candidature, but the returning officer, as well as the appellate tribunal headed by Justice Lodhi, dismissed them.
Talking to Dawn, Orakzai said that he had received information that the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) court had adjourned the trial till August 2 since Abbasi wanted to run his election campaign.
“Then I moved the LHC with the request to direct the CNS court not to let Hanif Abbasi run his election campaign because being an accused he should face the trial first,” he said.
On July 11, Lahore High Court had directed the anti-narcotics court to fix daily hearings for the case and pass judgment by July 21.
The Supreme Court on Friday had rejected a plea filed by Abbasi requesting the apex court to overturn the LHC directives to conclude the trial by July 21.
The case involves illegal allocation of ephedrine quotas worth Rs7 billion to two pharmaceutical companies – Berlex Lab International and Danas Pharmaceutical. Other than Abbasi, son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Ali Musa Gilani and former health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin were accused in the case.
Abbasi was booked in the case (41/2012) registered under sections 9(c), 15 and 16 of the Control of Narcotics Substances Act, 1997. The FIR was lodged on the complaint of Lt Colonel Syed Tauqeer Abbasi Zaidi posted at the Anti-Narcotics Force’s Rawalpindi directorate police station. The applicant submitted that he was avoiding arrest as the case against him was registered with malafide intent.
The ephedrine case surfaced in March 2011 when the then federal minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin told the National Assembly that the government would investigate the alleged allocation of 9,000 kilogrammes of ephedrine to two pharmaceutical companies — Berlex Lab International and Danas Pharmaceutical Limited.
According to the rules, a company cannot be allocated more than 500kg of the drug, a limit fixed by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) registered a case in June 2012 against nine suspects, including Abbasi.
He was charged with the of misuse of 500kg of the controlled chemical which he obtained for his company, Gray Pharmaceutical, in 2010. However, instead of using it as medicine, he was accused of selling it on to narcotics smugglers, Dawn reported.