Protest held in Rawalpindi against Abbasi’s sentence

  • PML-N announces to stage a protest on a daily basis outside Hanif Abbasi’s office

RAWALPINDI: Political workers and people from different walks of life staged a protest at the Sixth Road here on Sunday against what they called an injustice against former federal minister and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader Muhammad Hanif Abbasi, who received life sentence from a special Anti-Narcotics Court in the ephedrine quota case late on Saturday just few days before the general election.

The protest was led by PML-N leaders Senator Chaudhry Tanvir and Sardar Naseem. Hanif Abbasi was taken into custody from the courtroom soon after the judge announced the verdict. “We reject the court verdict against Hanif Abbasi,” Senator Tanvir said while talking to the media.

“We are going to file a petition requesting a delay in polls in the NA-60, Rawalpindi constituency from which Hanif Abbasi was contesting the upcoming election.” He announced that they would stage a protest on a daily basis outside Abbasi’s office. “No matter what we will not let the field be open for our opponents,” he said.

“Our second course of action [after seeking a delay in the poll] is to support any candidate who can defeat Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed,” he asserted. Abbasi, who was contesting the upcoming election from NA-60, was accused of misusing 500kg of the controlled chemical ephedrine, which he obtained for his company in 2010.

In its verdict announced after six years, the court ruled that 363kg of ephedrine quota could be accounted for, adding that Hanif Abbasi failed to provide evidence of utilising the remaining quantity of the controlled drug. The court acquitted seven other accused in the case, giving them the benefit of doubt.

Hanif Abbasi was expected to have a tough electoral contest on July 25 with Sheikh Rasheed who is allied with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Separately, 11 union council (UC) chairmen lent support to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidate in the NA-60 constituency following Abbasi’s disqualification.

The chairmen of union councils 21, 22, 23, 24, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75 and 76 announced they will be supporting PPP’s Mukhtar Abbas in the July 25 polls. “No matter what PML-N decides, we will support PPP’s candidate,” UC chairman Waqar Dar said. He said that they would make a formal announcement. “We also appeal to the PML-N to support the PPP’s candidate,” he added.

Earlier, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif criticised the timing of the verdict, saying that it clearly shows a discriminatory attitude towards the PML-N. Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that they could not see the justice being dispensed in the case. He said that the verdict had made the election controversial.

CASE REGISTERED: Rawalpindi Police has registered a case against Ammad Abbasi, son of a former federal minister and Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Muhammad Hanif Abbasi, Ziaullah Shah and 50 others on the charges of ‘creating law and order situation’ after a court verdict in the ephedrine quota case.