ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi on Wednesday defended his viewpoint over Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Rana Sanaullah’s legal proceedings – as he has been granted bail by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in a narcotics case filed against him by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) – by maintaining that there had been “no interference or political victimisation” in the case.
“Neither I nor Prime Minister Imran Khan had arrested Rana Sanaullah,” Mr Afridi remarked during a press conference a day after Mr Sanaullah got bail.
“Sanaullah has been granted bail, not acquittal […] the case is still in courts,” he said, adding that the ANF was a professional force.
“Did the prime minister arrest him (Sanaullah)? Did I? […] certainly not,” he said, adding: “We did not interfere in his legal proceedings, there is no victimisation at any level.
“Time will prove this. This is the season of bails,” Afridi stated, adding: “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.”
“This is same Rana Sanaullah for whom Abid Sher Ali’s father used to talk […] I haven’t said anything about the court, I said we’re waiting for the [written] verdict,” he said.
“All [members of] mafias whom the government has been chasing are pressurising to bend our knees […] so we may runaway,” he said.
“We haven’t come for making under table deal, for positions or rankings […] I am neither an investigation agency nor a judge […] we can’t announce sentences [to criminals] as we’re not the courts,” he went on to say.
He urged that the matter must not proceed as “media trial”, and said that he talks about the matter after getting feedback.
“I am from one of those people who had repatriated back to the country […] I was abroad but such an impression was given that I had runaway […] I wasn’t even present at yesterday’s meeting of the federal cabinet,” he mentioned.
“The prime minister blindly trusts me […] floodgates will be opened, let the [written] order come.”
After Sanaullah’s arrest, Afridi had said the ANF had “complete footage” of the PML-N Punjab president before it moved to arrest him.
“All evidence was submitted to the court within 17 days of the arrest,” Afridi said, adding that he had seen the evidence with his own eyes.
“One thing is being connected to me – video, video, video […] in the first press conference, with the DG ANF […] I referenced some footage. It was presented in a strange way”.
Afridi said his reference to videos had “repeatedly been made an issue”, adding that this was the job of the prosecution in courts.
In response to a question over the “footages”, Afridi maintained: “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.”
The minister asserted that they would take this case to its logical end while keeping all legal procedures at the forefront.
Rana Sanaullah’s bail
Yesterday, the LHC granted bail to former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah in a narcotics case lodged after Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) recovered 15kg heroin from his vehicle. The court also ordered Sanaullah to submit two surety bonds of Rs1 million each.
On Monday, Justice Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmed heard the arguments on a post-arrest bail petition filed by advocate Zahid Hussain Bukhari, Ahsan Bhawan and Azam Nazir Tarrar on Sanaullah’s behalf, and Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) Prosecutor Muhammad Irfan Malik and reserved the judgment.
Earlier, in his bail plea, Sanaullah stated that he was arrested in a false case of drugs smuggling as he used to criticise the government. He argued that he was booked for smuggling of 21 kilograms of heroin, according to an FIR lodged against him, whereas later the actual weight of the captured narcotics was declared 15 kilograms.
On Oct. 2, the PML-N leader had filed a bail petition in the LHC. The petition was, however, withdrawn the next day, to file the same at a later stage. Earlier this month, Sanullah once again approached the LHC for post-arrest bail.
A special court for Control of Narcotics Substance (CNS) had on September 20 also dismissed a bail petition by Sanaullah while releasing five co-suspects. On November 9, a CNS dismissed another bail petition of Sanaullah’s.
On Dec. 21, Anti-Narcotics Court Judge Shakir Hussain extended the judicial remand of PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah till Jan. 4 in the same case.
The court also issued notices to the investigation officer seeking a response on the application of Rana Sanaullah for provision of a video of the ministers.
On July 1, Sanaullah was arrested by the ANF after the discovery of a large stash of contraband in his vehicle from near the Sukheke area in Punjab. The next day, he was sent to jail on judicial remand by a local magistrate.