Saturday September 25, 2021

Dr Asim allowed to go abroad for medical treatment

ATC also permits Pasban leader Usman Moazzam to travel abroad

Dr Asim Hussain, former petroleum minister and close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, was allowed to go abroad for medical treatment for two weeks by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Friday.

Hussian, together with some leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, is standing trial over charges of sheltering terrorists and other criminals and providing them with medical treatment at two branches of his private hospital.

The ATC directed him to deposit Rs2 million as a surety amount before going abroad for two weeks for medical treatment.  It also permitted a co-accused, Pasban leader Usman Moazzam, to go abroad for medical treatment. 

Apart from Hussain and Moazzam, former MQM leader Saleem Shehzad and PPP leader Qadir Patel also appeared in the court, which fixed May 11 to frame charges against the defendants. 

MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Pak Sarzameen Party leader Anis Qaimkhani are also standing the trial over similar charges. 

The court directed the investigation officer (IO) to provide the due copies of the case to each accused so that it could indict them o May 11.

On the question of returning Dr Asim Hussian’s passport, the judge observed that the defendant should approach the Sindh High Court (SHC) in this connection. Later, Hussain was said to have been permitted by the high court to collect his passport.

Hussain, who is also the PPP president for Karachi Division, also visited an accountability court (AC) hearing two corruption references against him and other accused. The cases were adjourned to April 29 because of the absence of the judge. 

Talking to journalists at outside the courtroom, Hussain said that he was keen to quit politics as he was not a politician. 

Replying to a question on the Panama leaks case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and others, he said no ruling would come in the near future.

Hussain, Qaimkhani, Siddiqui and Moazzam were granted bail by the Sindh High Court on November 2 last year.

Siddiqui and Qaimkhani have already fulfilled the legal formalities and have been released. The Karachi mayor has obtained bail in all 38 cases registered against him, including cases pertaining to charges of his involvement in killings and violence that took place on May 12, 2007. The prosecution had claimed that Dr Asim Hussain had provided medical treatment and shelter to terrorists of a banned outfit, MQM men and Lyari gangsters at his hospital.

The medical treatment and shelter to terrorists was allegedly provided on the instructions of MQM leaders Abdul Rauf Siddiqui, Waseem Akhtar, Saleem Shahzad, PSP leader Anis Qaimkhani, PPP leader Qadir Patel and Pasban leader Usman Moazaam.

Dr Asim’s counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan and Latif Khoso who had pleaded the bail plea before a SHC bench had submitted that their client was ill and he required proper medical treatment and surgery as per the recommendation of a medical board.

They submitted that the case was registered on the basis of a joint investigation team’s report which had no legal value under the law.

They contended that the administrative judge of the anti-terrorism courts did not accept the investigation officer’s report over lack of evidence. They also questioned medical bills and other evidence of the prosecution and submitted that none of the terrorists named in these documents were charged in the case. They sought the release of Hussain on bail as the case required further investigations.

Anees Qaimkhani’s counsel M Ilyas Khan submitted that none of the prosecution witnesses mentioned the role of his client in their statements nor had any material been produced against him to prove the charges. He submitted that prosecution witness Dr Yousuf Sattar was detained by Rangers and released for giving a statement against the applicants.

Rauf Siddiqui’s counsel Shaukat Hayat said the former investigation officer of the case had failed to collect any evidence against his client. He said the statement of hospital in-charge Dr Yousuf Sattar was not admissible under the law as no notice was issued to the applicant.

Usman Moazzam’s counsel Mohammad Farooq submitted that the role of his client was not mentioned in the joint investigation team report and the FIR. He said Rangers had detained Moazzam for 90 days and later implicated him in a case of terrorists-harbouring. Rangers counsel Sajid Mehboob submitted that the investigation officer had tried to facilitate the accused in the case and the application against his misconduct was also pending before the trial court for adjudication.