Dr Asim gets ‘clean-chit’, court acquits in terrorism case
Eight years of agony comes to an end
KARACHI: Former Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain and Abdul Qadir Patel along with four other leaders were cleared of charges of harboring and treatment of alleged terrorists and gangsters as an anti-terrorism court (ATC) has allowed Sindh government to withdraw eight-year-old case against them.
Court issued notices to parties on request of Sindh Home Department and sought their response by second week of March. In December last year, ATC had issued notices to parties on acquittal plea of Dr Asim Hussain. In his petition, Dr Hussain pleaded before ATC that fabricated case was registered against him as prosecution could not produce even single witness who could testify against him during past seven years therefore, court should accept his acquittal plea.
Sindh government through special public prosecutor, Muhammad Younus had in February moved an application before ATC-II judge, seeking its permission to withdraw case citing lack of material to corroborate charges against politicians. Plea came at time when court was recording statements of accused.
Dr Asim was arrested by Rangers from his office in Clifton in August 2015. He was kept under three-month preventive detention for investigation under Section-11 EEEE of Anti-Terrorism Act before being handed over to police after registration of case against him and others for allegedly harboring, facilitating and treating terrorists. Close aide of PPP co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, Dr Asim had been charged with treating and harboring terror suspects including political militants and gangsters at North Nazimabad and Clifton branches of his private hospital at behest of politicians, including Abdul Qadir Patel, MQM-P’s Anis Qaim Khani, former Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar, Rauf Siddiqui and Pasban leader Usman Moazzam.
During hearing of case, Sindh Home Department submitted its response and requested court to withdraw case against Dr Asim and others over want of evidence. In application, government stated that no witnesses were found against Dr Asim Hussain and other accused while investigation officer had classified case as A-class even in initial stages due to lack of evidence. Case against accused should be dismissed under Section 494 of Pakistan Penal Code, Home Department added in its response.
On Saturday, judge pronounced his order reserved after hearing arguments on application, granting government’s request to withdraw case. SPP Muhammad Younus told that all accused have been acquitted of charges with acceptance of plea regarding withdrawal of case.
According to Section 494, “Any Public Prosecutor may, with consent of Court, before judgment is pronounced, withdraw from prosecution of any person either generally or in respect of any one or more of offences for which he is tried and upon such withdrawal (a) if it is made before charge has been framed, accused shall be discharged in respect of such offence or offences; (b) if it is made after charge has been framed, or when under this Code no charge is required, he shall be acquitted in respect of such offence or offences.”
SPP had informed judge that Sindh government intended to withdraw case against all accused persons and sought court’s permission for this purpose. He placed on record letter February 16 written to Sindh Prosecutor General Faiz Shah by home department giving go-ahead to proposal for withdrawal of case with consent of court. Prosecutor said there was no material on record which might result in conviction of the accused.
FIR was lodged at 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 (harboring offender who has escaped from custody whose apprehension has been ordered), 216-A (harboring robbers or dacoits), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant or banker, merchant or agent) and 34 (common intention) of Pakistan Penal Code read with various sections of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
Published in The Daily National Courier, August, 14 2023