Newspaper onwner arrested on drug charges -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Newspaper onwner arrested on drug charges

LAHORE, April 2: The owner of The Frontier Post, Rehmat Shah Afridi, was arrested here early on Friday by the army-run Anti Narcotics Force on the charge of possessing 20kgs of charas and three guns.

This was stated by the ANF Regional Director Brig Riazullah Khan Chib at a news conference at his office who claimed that the arrest had led to the recovery of 620kgs of charas from a truck near Faisalabad later on Friday.

The ANF director said two persons accompanying Mr. Afridi and two others who were with the truck had also been arrested. The weapons recovered were two Kalashnikovs and a pistol. All the guns were licensed, he said.

ANF Director-General Maj-Gen Zafar Abbas was in Lahore on Friday but it was not clarified whether his presence had any link with the arrest of line Frontier Post owner.

In reply to questions, Brig Chib ruled out any victimization by the government, saying the ANF had a track record of keeping away from politics. “It is above such things,” he said.

Mr Afridi and others had not been produced before any court till the evening and were being kept at the ANF offices. Reporters were not allowed to meet him, and Brig Chib said all the accused would be produced before a local magistrate on Saturday for a remand into ANF custody.

It was not clarified where Mr Afridi was coming from early in the morning at 3.45am when he was taken into custody near a five star hotel where he was going. The destination of the truck was also not revealed and it was stated that it was parked on a road near Shah Kot.

Brig Chib, who has taken charge of his office only 15 days ago, said the ANF had received secret information that Mr Afridi would try to smuggle narcotics out of the country on Friday.

Working on the tip off, he alleged, a 38-men ANF team intercepted Afridi’s car on The Mall near a five-star hotel.

Brig Chib said during search, 20kgs of charas was recovered from the trunk of Mr Afridi’s car. The two men accompanying him, Nek Nawaz of Bara and Lal Saeed of Peshawar, both gunmen, were also arrested. Mr. Afridi’s car has been impounded. The ANF director said an ANF team later recovered 620kgs of charas which was concealed in a hollow space behind the truck’s front seats from near Faisalabad. Two men, Abdul Malick of Charsadda and Missal Khan of Peshawar, were arrested, he said.

He said cases have been registered against Mr Afridi and the other accused under the relevant laws and more revelations were expected after their interrogation.

Brig Chib said the ANF had been receiving information regarding the alleged involvement of Mr Afridi in drug peddling. Recently the ANF director-general had asked the regional office to keep an eye on the activities of Mr Afridi when he was in Lahore.

The Frontier Post’s Lahore operations were wound up some time ago, and the paper is now only from Peshawar.

Source: Dawn

Date:4/3/1999