ANF names Musa Gilani as accused in ephedrine case -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

ANF names Musa Gilani as accused in ephedrine case

Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: A day ahead of the hearing of the ‘ephedrine’ case by the Supreme Court, the Anti-Narcotics Force submitted on Thursday a report before the court formally naming eight accused, including Prime Minister’s son Ali Musa Gilani, for their alleged involvement in the scam.

The 23-page report submitted by ANF’s Regional Director Brig Fahim Ahmad Khan names Ali Musa Gilani, former director general health Dr Asad Hafeez, Deputy Drug Controller Abdul Sattar Shorani, former health secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, MNA Mian Abdul Sattar, Drug Controller Sheikh Ansar, Anjum Shah, a resident of Nawabshah and friend of Mian Abdul Sattar, and Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Narcotics Control Zafar Abbas Lak.

The accused allegedly allocated 6,500kg and 2,500kg of ephedrine to Berlex Lab International, Multan, and Danas Pharma (Pvt) Ltd, Islamabad, respectively, in 2010-11 for export to Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, 20 other companies were waiting for allocation of a 5,710kg quota.

According to the ANF report, the accused managed to convert the allotment of drugs intended for export into local use with the help of health ministry staff and under alleged political pressure from Ali Musa Gilani and Mian Abdul Sattar.

The allocation amounts were in violation of a UN convention that set the export quota for Iraq at 3,000kg and Afghanistan at 50kg.

In 2010, total ephedrine allocation was raised to 31,534kg against an annual ceiling authorised by the International Narcotics Control Board for Pakistan at 22,000kg. Over the last four years, average allocation of ephedrine was 13,544kg per annum, according to the ANF report.

Berlex and Danas’ management claimed to have manufactured 218 million and 85 million tablets, respectively, from ephedrine, said the report, adding that neither company could present evidence to support the claim. Lower staff, employees and suppliers of raw material did not support the stance of the companies.

The report said that all pharmacists and medical stores in Kohistan, Northern Areas and of the Punjab drug control authorities that supplied Danas Pharma medicines have denied any receipt or supply of tablets at their end. Danas Pharma claims to have transported the tablets to the Northern Areas and Kohistan through Kohistan Deer Goods Transport Company, but the latter’s office in I-11/4, Islamabad, appears to be a fruit and vegetable shop. Similarly, all label printers, chemical and bottle suppliers also denied any supply.

The companies’ claims that extra tablets were produced were further negated by their electricity bills. The companies do not seem to have used extra electricity during the relevant months, said the report.

Berlex’s distribution companies – Florence Pharma Shop and Can Pharma – neither exist on the ground in Multan nor are they registered in any government department. Non-production of proper sale records before the investigating officer clearly shows illicit use of the controlled substance.

Lashari denies allegations
Meanwhile, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Khushnood Akhtar Lashari in a statement before the apex court denied allegations of his involvement in the case. He said his name was being dragged by certain quarters for nefarious and self-serving purposes.

He allegedly became aware of the allegations when the media explored the contents of the interim challan filed by the ANF before the ANF court in Rawalpindi. According to Mr Lashari, the challan made unfounded assertions that he had directed Deputy Drug Controller Mohammad Tanvir to issue a 500kg quota to Berlex as a regular allocation and further 2,000kg by way of a re-appropriation of the quota.

The responsibility for irregularities with regard to the quota of ephedrine and later conversion to local use rested with the office of Director General Health Dr Rashid Jooma, according to Mr Lashari.

He took strong exception to the registration of 4,000 drugs by the health DG in a single meeting of the Drug Registration Board.
He deplored that he was being targeted and involved in the scam on account of his present position. According to Mr Lashari, the affidavit filed by Brig Fahim Ahmed Khan before the Supreme Court was nothing but a concoction of untrue statements.

“Such statements could only have been made by a person who had lost all control of his senses,” he alleged, adding that there was a game afoot to harm his reputation and dignity.