Director of medicine firm implicates Shahabuddin, Musa in ephedrine scam
ISLAMABAD, July 12: To the horror of the federal Minister for Textile, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Ali Musa, son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and principal secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, another accused in the ephedrine case has turned approver against them, after former director general of health Dr Rashid Juma.
The new approver, Rizwan Ahmed Khan, a director of Danas Pharma, submitted his affidavit in the Control of Narcotic Substances (CNS) Court on Thursday in which he alleged that Makhdoom Shahab, Ali Musa Gilani and Khushnood Lashari were involved in illegal allocation and conversion of 2,500kg quota of controlled chemical ephedrine to his company. This was later sold to Kaka Khan who smuggled it to Iran via Quetta and Taftan.
He said Ansar Farooq, chief executive of Danas, and director Tahirul Wadood Lahoti had opened a joint account in Bank Alfalah’s I-8 branch in Islamabad for managing the ephedrine profit.
On June 16, Dr Rashid Juma had, in his statement recorded before the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), confessed to illegal allocation and conversion of 9,000kg of the chemical to pharmaceutical companies Berlex and Danas but accused the three persons of having pressurised and blackmailed him to do so.
Rizwan Khan said in his statement that Iftikhar Ahmed, the owner of Berlex Pharma, had also planned to get ephedrine quota for manufacturing and exporting E-Tone tablets in 2010. Ahmed introduced him to Tauqeer Ali Khan, the alleged frontman of Ali Musa Gilani, and told him that he would manage the allocation and conversion of ephedrine for their companies. The statement said Tauqeer Ali did what they expected him to do.
The statement said Tauqeer Ali initially managed to convert 2,000kg of ephedrine and then took Rizwan and Iftikhar to Islamabad for a meeting with Khushnood Lashari for allocation of more ephedrine.
During the meeting held in his office, then health secretary Khushnood Lashari called deputy drug controller Mohammad Tanvir and ordered him to issue ephedrine quota to Berlex and Danas pharmaceutical companies.
After some reluctance, Tanvir referred the case to Lashari but the latter returned it without signing and verbally asked Tanvir to issue the allocation and conversion order, the statement said, adding that the order was signed by Dr Juma and later his successor Asad Hafeez converted 2,415kg of ephedrine from export quota to local sale.
Rizwan Khan claimed that for the allocation and conversion of 2,500kg of ephedrine to Danas, Rs6 million was paid to Anjum Shah, an alleged agent of Makhdoom Shahabuddin.
Anjum Shah, the statement said, had earlier introduced Rizwan Khan and his partners Ansar Farooq, Tahirul Wadood and Abdul Waheed to Makhdoom Shahabuddin and a parliamentarian, Mian Abdul Sattar, in the Parliament Lodges. During the meeting, the minister reminded Anjum Shah how he had managed to issue the quota conversion order through Dr Juma.
Rizwan said he had sold his share in the company much before the scam surfaced.
He said Tahir Lahoti again tried to get 1,000kg ephedrine quota last year and submitted an application to the health ministry. He contacted Tauqeer Ali who approached former director general for health Asad Hafeez who initially refused to make the allocation but after receiving a phone call from Musa Gilani forwarded the case to Nargis Sethi for approval. Ms Sethi snubbed him and sent the case back to him.
CNS court special judge Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry heard arguments of ANF prosecutor who insisted that the testimonies of both the approvers — Dr Rashid Juma and Rizwan Khan — be recorded, but the matter was deferred to Friday.
Talking to Dawn, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, the counsel for Makhdoom Shahabuddin, said that technically neither Dr Juma nor Rizwan Khan could become an approver.
He said that under Sections 337 and 338 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), an accused can become an approver if he is confined in jail or obtains bail from a court.
He said both the accused were currently on interim bail and their requests for confirmation of the bail were pending in the Lahore High Court (LHC).
The lawyer said an ANF commander had illegally granted Rizwan the status of an approver because under the CrPC this was the discretion of a court.
He disclosed that Rizwan Khan had sold his share in Danas to his brother Imran Khan who was running the company after the arrest of the chief executive and other directors.
Advocate Sehikh said he would challenge the status of the approvers.
Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for Musa Gilani, said a principal accused could not become an approver. In a murder case, the murderer could not claim that he had killed a person under pressure from co-accused.
In this case, he said, Dr Juma was the competent authority and he could not become an approver in order to avoid punishment.