Hanif Abbasi – Verdict in Ephedrine Case

Introduction :

Muhammad Hanif Abbasi is well known Pakistani politician and businessman. He had been a  Member of National Assembly (MNA) from 2002 to 2013. Abbasi was born in Rawalpindi on January 04, 1966. He studied at Forman Christian College and University of the Punjab. Abbasi started his career in politics as a member of Jamaat-e-Islami. He defeated Sheikh Rashid Shafiq (nephew of Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad) in 2002 while contesting elections on Muthidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) ticket. Later on, he joined Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). Abbasi defeated Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad in 2008 elections. He was defeated by PTI chief Imran Khan in 2013 elections.

Hanif Abbasi

Hanif Abbasi – Ephedrine Quota Case

Background

Hanif Abbasi runs a pharmaceutical wholesale company. It was alleged that Abbasi and his colleagues misused 500 kgs of ephedrine. The substance was bought in 2010 for making medicine. An FIR was lodged on application of Lt Col Syed Tauqeer Abbasi Zaidi in 2012. The case was based on sections 9(c), 15 and 16 of Narcotics Substances Act, 1997. ANF claimed that the substance was sold to narcotics smugglers by Abbasi who used it to make ‘party drugs’. The case was investigated by ANF officer Syed Imtiaz Shah.

List of Implicated People

Following people were implicated in the case

  • Hanif Abbasi
  • Ali Musa Gillani – Son of Former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
  • Makhdoom Shahabuddin – Former Health Minister
  • Basit Abbasi
  • Siraj Abbasi
  • Nazakat Khan
  • Ahmed Bilal
  • Ghazanfar Ali
  • Rana Mohsin Khursheed
  • Muhammad Nasir Khan

Companies Involved

Records of following companies were investigated

  • Gray Pharmaceutical – Owned by Hanif Abbasi
  • Berlex Lab International
  • Danas Pharmaceutical

Court Proceedings

The case continued for six year. Statements from dozens of witnesses were recorded in this regard. The case was heard on daily basis from mid July 2018 onward on the instructions of Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi. Hanif Abbasi plead the court to delay trial’s deadline. His plea was rejected by Judge Muhammad Akram Khan. The judge remarked that he would continue hearing the case even if he had to work at night.

The verdict was announced on July 21, 2018 (just 04 days before elections). The judge reached verdict around 1200 hrs but the announcement was delayed till 2340 hrs. It for for the first time in the history of country’s judiciary that a verdict was announced this late at night. The verdict became somewhat controversial because media was barred from the courtroom. The judge had ordered Hanif Abbasi to stay inside the locked courtroom.

Strict security arrangements were made outside the court. Large number of police officials and rangers were deployed in the area. The court ruled that 363 kgs of ephedrine quota could be traced but Abbasi failed to provide the evidence of usage for remaining quantity. He was sentenced to life in prison. He was also asked to pay Rs 1 million. The court released others involved in the case on the benefit of doubt.

Hanif Abbasi was subsequently taken into custody by the authorities. He was shifted to Adiala Jail. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Safdar were imprisoned in same jail. As a convict, he became ineligible to hold a public office for life.

Reactions

  • Hanif Abbasi : Abbasi denied the charge, calling it blatant political victimization. He said that he was neither sorry nor disappointed over the verdict. He expressed his intentions to challenge the verdict in high court.
  • PML-N Supporters : As soon as Abbasi was arrested, PML-N supporters started protesting near the court. They chanted slogans against the authorities. They also turned to violence. The judge was escorted in a security vehicle due to threat.
  • Imran Khan : Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader welcomed court’s decision. He said that more PML-N members would be going to Adiala prison in future. He said “Today Pakistan’s judiciary is independent”.
  • Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad : Awami Muslim League (AML) leader said that the case had reached to its logical ending. He remarked that Hanif Abbasi had been selling drugs and was caught in the act. He said “A man reaps what he sows”.
  • Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif : PML-N president criticized on the timing of the verdict. He said that it clearly showed a discriminatory attitude towards PML-N.
  • Shahid Khaqan Abbasi : Former Prime Minister remarked that he could not see justice being done in the case. He said that the verdict would make upcoming elections controversial.
  • Maryam Aurangzeb : PML-N spokesperson criticized the timing of the verdict. She said that announcement of the verdict at late night had raised suspicions.
  • Marvi Sirmed : The journalist questioned the way Abbasi’s case had been handed. She alleged that election process was being rigged in favor of Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad.
  • Hamid Mir : Famous TV host remarked that court verdict against Hanif Abbasi just a few days before elections had affected the credibility of election process.
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