–Narcotics Minister Shehryar Afridi dismisses allegations of political victimisation, says ‘footages’ have been provided to court
–Says govt will ensure that case against PML-N leader reaches a logical conclusion
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will challenge the bail granted to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Rana Sanaullah in a narcotics case, said Minister for Narcotics Shehryar Khan Afridi on Wednesday.
Afridi’s remarks come a day after the Lahore High Court granted bail to Sanaullah in the case filed against him by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). The court also ordered Sanaullah to submit two surety bonds of Rs1 million each.
In a statement, the minister, who spearheaded the campaign against Sanaullah, said that the government had still not been provided with the LHC order, adding that Sanaullah’s bail had been granted in a verbal order.
“We will wait for the court’s written order to present our stance,” he wrote.
“We respect the court decisions and will continue to do so. Others should also respect the court decisions, not just decisions in your favour.” He claimed that some segments of the media had given the impression that the PML-N leader had been acquitted.
The statement was followed by a fiery press conference by Afridi, during which he claimed that the government didn’t victimise any of the opposition leaders, including Sanaullah who was sent to jail for allegedly carrying 15kg heroin in his vehicle.
Afridi dismissed the impression of political victimisation in the case, saying that neither he nor Prime Minister Imran Khan had arrested Sanaullah. “Did the prime minister arrest him? or did I? […] certainly not,” he said, adding, “We did not interfere in his legal proceedings, there is no victimisation at any level.”
He also said that the PML-N Punjab president had only been granted bail, not acquitted as the case was still in the courts.
“Time will prove this. This is the season of bails. Remember that the ANF is a professional force. We need to strengthen institutions, Shehryar will come and go, rulers will come and go, the real thing is the institutions of Pakistan,” he added.
It is worth mentioning here that following the former Punjab law minister’s arrest in July, addressing a press conference alongside ANF chief Major General Arif Malik, Afridi had said that Sanullah was arrested after his three-week surveillance and the ANF had complete and sufficient evidence to prove his involvement in the drug business.
“All the movements of Rana Sanaullah Sahib and his vehicle were observed and gauged at all levels. Video footage and other things are with us,” the minister had said while refusing to give further details saying they might harm investigation and key witnesses. He had also said that all the evidence would be presented in courts.
Recalling that presser, he said, “In the first press conference, with the ANF DG, […] I talked about some footage. One thing is being connected to me — video, video, video. It was presented in a strange way.”
In response to a query over the “footages” in question, Afridi said, “Look at all my press conferences […] wherever I spoke about the videos I said [we have the] footages. In 17 days, all things were provided.”
Afridi said his reference to videos had “repeatedly been made an issue”, adding that this was the job of the prosecution in courts. “It is not my job or yours, why should we be the judges or the jury. This is the job of the courts. The case will be presented in the courts, where a trial [will take place]. We will take this case to its logical end. Keeping all legal procedures at the forefront, we will read the order and will go all-out,” he added.
Afridi further said that the PML-N leader had been arrested on the basis of a lead from a person who had been arrested at Faisalabad airport.
Sanaullah was arrested by the ANF Lahore team on July 1 while he was traveling from Faisalabad to Lahore near the Ravi Toll Plaza on the motorway. ANF claimed to have seized 15kg heroin from his vehicle. A special team of the force had also arrested five others, including the driver and security guards of the PML-N leader.
The first information report (FIR) was lodged under Section 9(C) of the Control of Narcotic Substances Act 1997, which carries the death penalty or life imprisonment or a jail term that may extend to 14 years, along with a fine up to Rs1 million.