Dr Asim alleges Rangers of torture, pleads innocence

  • Zardari’s close aide tells anti-terror judge that he fears for his life in Rangers’ custody, alleges torture
  • Court extends Dr Asim’s remand for five days

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi on Monday extended the remand of former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain for five more days, who expressed fear for his life and claimed that he is being tortured in custody.

The former petroleum minister – a close aide of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari – is being investigated over allegations of corruption and facilitating terrorists at his private hospital in Karachi. He was taken into custody on August 26 and has since been on remand in either the custody of the Rangers or the police.

The former minister was presented in court on Monday, where he requested the judge to privately speak to him in his chambers without the presence of law enforcement agencies and security forces’ representatives. But the ATC’s administrative judge Naimatullah Phulpoto rejected his request, directing him to say what he wanted in court.

“My life is in danger. They torture me, beat me up. I am being tortured so I repeat what they want me to say like a parrot,” he told the court.

Dr Asim said he was being wrongly accused of facilitating terrorists, and that he was innocent. He said that it was a ‘battle of egos’ and ‘somebody else’s dispute’ but that he was being wrongly implicated. “If all evidence is with the Rangers, then why am I in custody?” he asked.

“If they want to kill me they should do so in an encounter. But do not torture me like this. I am a heart patient. If I die, who will be responsible?”

Denying all charges, Dr Asim claimed that a false FIR has been lodged and a serious case is being built against him on a statement given by one medical superintendent at his hospital. He claimed that the police was taking directions from “somewhere else”.

The investigating officer requested the court for an extension of five days for the physical remand of the PPP leader, which was granted by Judge Phulpoto.

Dr Asim, who served as the petroleum minister during the tenure of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government, was taken into custody on August 26 under Section 11-EEEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, and a joint interrogation team was formed after getting approval from the Sindh government.

The Sindh Rangers registered a case against Dr Asim at a North Nazimabad police station last month, soon after the expiry of the 90-day remand that the paramilitary force had obtained from the anti-terrorism court for investigation after his arrest in August. He was serving as the chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission when he was arrested.