ISLAMABAD: Although, Makhdoom Shahabuddin has been short-listed as one of the candidates for the prime minister’s slot after the disqualification of Yusuf Raza Gilani, he can be arrested anytime by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) in connection with the ephedrine case.
“His arrest is a matter of time. He can be taken into custody anytime,” said a well-placed ANF official privy to the investigation into the drug case that made headlines after the alleged involvement of the son of outgoing PM, Ali Musa Gilani.
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had already directed the ANF to arrest Shahabuddin, who had approved the ephedrine quota. Shahabuddin is being considered for the slot together with Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and Syed Khursheed Shah, with majority betting on him as he belongs to south Punjab.
An ANF official said the investigators had undeniable evidence of Shahabuddin’s involvement in the ephedrine case. “He was the man who being the health minister issued quota to Danas Pharma,” said the official, who wished anonymity given the discreet nature of information and the high-profile individuals’ involvement.
The ANF last summoned Shahabuddin in May for interrogation and he admitted issuing a quota but pleaded innocence, saying he was unaware of the purpose and persons behind the move.
The Supreme Court has directed the ANF to arrest Shahabuddin for issuing unauthorised drug quota to Danas Pharma with Ali Musa Gilani as the principal beneficiary of such sanction. Hearing the ephedrine case on June 7, the Supreme Court questioned Brig Faheem of the ANF as to why Shahabuddin had not been arrested even after it was established that he had approved the illegal ephedrine quota.
Brig Faheem had told the court that bureaucracy was creating hindrances for the ANF to proceed against the suspects in the case. He said the chief executives of two pharmaceutical companies involved in the case had been arrested for investigation.
Shahabuddin, who long aspired and conspired for the PM’s slot, previously told Tariq Butt, a senior journalist of The News, that he had ordered an investigation into the ephedrine scandal without knowing about the alleged involvement of Syed Ali Musa Gilani in it.
In fact, reported Tariq Butt, he was the principal character as the health minister behind the initiation of investigations against only two pharmaceutical companies that imported a huge quantity of ephedrine for the mere reason that the name of Gilani’s son, Ali Musa, figured in it.
But when the ephedrine scandal hit headlines due to the involvement of Ali Musa in it after the Supreme Court intervened, Shahabuddin put the entire blame on MNA Mian Abdul Sattar of the PPP from Rahimyar Khan for prodding him to order a probe into the scam when the prime minister inquired from him about the case.
After Shahabuddin “briefed” the prime minister about Abdul Sattar’s involvement, disentangling himself and entangling him, Gilani started ignoring the MP, who now fears that he would not even be given the party ticket next time although he has been an old PPP cardholder, winning elections most of the time.
While Gilani was questioning the motives of Brig Faheem for investigating his son, Shahabuddin had publicly declared this ANF chief investigator as “a man of integrity”.