KARACHI: An antiterrorism court indicted on Saturday former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and five other politicians on charges of sheltering and treating suspected militants.
Dr Asim, a close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari and president of the PPP’s Karachi chapter, has been booked in a case pertaining to allegedly treating and harbouring suspected terrorists, political militants and gangsters at the North Nazimabad and Clifton branches of his hospital at the behest of Wasim Akhtar, Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaimkhani, Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui, PPP leader Abdul Qadir Patel, former MQM leader Saleem Shahzad and Pasban leader Usman Moazzam. All accused in the case have been granted bail.
The ATC-II judge read out the charges against the accused persons, who were present in court. However, they pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the case.
The court summoned all prosecution witnesses for evidence on Sept 30.
Meanwhile, the court also allowed an application of Mr Siddiqui seeking permission to perform Haj and directed him to deposit an amount of Rs2 million as surety.
In November 2016, the same court had indicted Dr Asim and five other co-accused in the present case. However, the court again indicted all the accused persons by amending the charge since Mr Shahzad, one of the co-accused who was an absconder in the case, was arrested in February.
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 the hospitals after they got injured in shoot-outs with police and Rangers.
The Rangers had picked up Dr Asim, the then chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission with the status of a provincial minister, from his office in Clifton on Aug 26, 2015 and placed him under three-month preventive detention for inquiry under Section 11-EEEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) on the grounds that they had credible information about his involvement in using “embezzled funds” to finance terrorism.
Later, the paramilitary force handed him to police after lodging an FIR at the North Nazimabad police station against him and others for allegedly treating and harbouring terrorists and gangsters.
The investigating officer had released Dr Asim in December 2015 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 ATC-II for trial after taking cognizance and observed that prima facie sufficient incriminating evidence/material was available against him and others to connect them with the case.
Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2017