Dr Asim, five other political leaders indicted in terrorism case
KARACHI: The ATC-II judge read out charges against them and summoned prosecution witnesses on Nov 16 for evidence after they pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the case.The Sindh High Court had granted bail to Dr Asim, Mr Qaimkhani, Mr Siddiqui and Mr Moazzam a few days ago in the present case. Thereafter, Mr Akhtar and Mr Patel moved the trial court for bail.
Meanwhile, the ATC-II also took up the bail applications of both leaders during Saturday’s hearing and after hearing arguments from both sides, the court reserved its order on the bail pleas till next hearing. Dr Asim, a close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, has been charged with allegedly treating and harbouring suspected terrorists, “political” militants and gangsters at the North Nazimabad and Clifton branches of his hospital at the behest of some politicians, including Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar, Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaimkhani, Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui, PPP leader Abdul Qadir Patel and Pasban leader Usman Moazzam. The jail authorities produced Dr Asim in a wheelchair, who is under treatment at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the city mayor, the PPP and Pasban leaders before the court while the other two accused, who are on bail, also turned up.An anti-terrorism court on Saturday indicted former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain and five other leaders in a case registered for sheltering and treating alleged terrorists.According to the prosecution, the co-accused had allegedly asked Dr Asim to provide medical treatment to “political” militants, Lyari gangsters as well as activists of banned militant outfits at Ziauddin hospitals after they sustained wounds in shootouts with police and Rangers personnel.The Rangers had picked up Dr Asim, chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission with the status of a provincial minister, from his office in Clifton on Aug 26, 2015. The following day, the Rangers informed an ATC that he was placed under three-month preventive detention for inquiry under Section 11-EEEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act, claiming that they had credible information about his involvement for using embezzled funds to finance terrorism.
Later, the paramilitary force handed him over to police after lodging a case against him and others for allegedly treating and harbouring terrorists and gangsters.The investigating officer had released Dr Asim in December for what he called lack of sufficient evidence. However, the administrative judge of the ATCs had thrown out the IO’s report and sent the case to the ATC-II for trial after tacking cognizance and observed that prima facie sufficient incriminating evidence/material was available against him and others to connect them with the case.
Dr Asim, who has been behind the bar since his detention, served as the federal minister of petroleum and natural resources and adviser to the then prime minister during the PPP government at the centre.
A case was registered at the North Nazimabad police station under Sections 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender), 202 (intentional omission to give information of offence by person bound to inform), 216 (harbouring offender who has escaped from custody whose apprehension has been ordered), 216-A (harbouring robbers or dacoits), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant or banker, merchant or agent) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Sections 21-I (abetment), 21-J (harbouring any person who committed an offence under this act) and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.Dr Asim is also facing trial in two references before an accountability court. The first reference pertains to an alleged corruption of over Rs460 billion through fraudulent allotment of land, encroachment upon state land for expansion of his hospital, money laundering, commission through fertilizer cartel for illegal curtailment of gas and fraud with public in the name of charity hospital.
In the second reference, in which some top officials of the Sui Southern Gas Company and Oil and Gas Development Company have also been named, Dr Asim and others have been charge-sheeted for allegedly misusing their authority and fraudulently awarding contracts of five gas fields to privately managed gas processing company JJVL that had caused an alleged loss of Rs17.338 billion.
Published in Dawn November 6th, 2016