ISLAMABAD - In a move to clear some confusion surrounding the arrest of senior politician, Minister for Narcotics Control Shehryar Khan Afridi Thursday said the Anti-Narcotics Force had all the evidence against PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah for allegedly part of a narcotics racket.

However, the minister avoided to give details of evidence that led ANF to arrest former provincial minister for allegedly possessing narcotics in his vehicle and said all proofs would be furnished before the court. His remarks gave rise to more suspicions and rumours about the arrest on the social media and among political circles.

Addressing a press conference along with Director General ANF Maj-General Arif Malik, Afridi said: “These are such cruel and dangerous people that we cannot share all the details with you as they can cause a lot of damage to children.” He also cast doubts that the names connected with the case might flee abroad if details of the case were shared with the media.

He said Sanaullah, a member of the National Assembly, was allegedly part of a big narcotics racket that operates at domestic level and internationally. The matter is out of reach of common people who are raising questions over this arrest, he added.

“No one will be allowed to escape. No one is above the law.” the minister said and added action would also be taken against all influential and this action won’t stop here.

“All those and all political parties including PML-N and PPP who are raising voice over Sanaullah why they remained silent about those 1200 suspects who have been arrested by ANF this year?” he questioned. He said whether these people were not Pakistanis?  “Today we need to tell the nation that union of thieves is out to help save drug barons,” he alleged the opposition parties.

PML-N stalwart was arrested on July 1 at the national motorway while travelling from Faisalabad to Lahore. The opposition parties have termed the arrest a worst political victimisation by the PTI government. On this, an ANF spokesperson had said that large quantity of narcotics was recovered from his vehicle at the time of arrest.

Afridi said: “When (past) rulers themselves are found involved in such illegal businesses, it damages the image of Pakistan and causes disrespect to the nation.” He said that they would make an example to all those who have a role in narcotics smuggling in any capacity.

Briefing the media, Afridi said that the ANF had arrested an accused at Faisalabad Airport who gave lead about involvement of Sanaullah. “Based on the lead, ANF followed him for three weeks and his movement was observed and we have all footages of that.” ANF could have arrested thrice before too but he was spared as female family members were also present in his vehicle, he said. He said transportation of drugs was a difficult business and VIP cars could help them doing so.

Afridi alleged that PML-N MNA carried 15kg heroin of high quality of having worth of Rs160 million in international market. This was to be transported to Lahore Airport for its smuggling abroad, he said. “But this is not a matter of 15kg narcotics, it is a matter of prestige of Pakistan, its image and global perception of green flag.”

Lauding the performance of ANF, he said that the force had only 3000 manpower and 29 police stations across the country but still it was taking wonderful action against drug peddlers. “I want to remind that some people had raised hue and cry when Rangers were called to settle mess in Karachi. Today Karachi is cleansed,” he stressed.

DG ANF briefing:

Replying a question since how long Sanaullah is involved in this illegal business, DG ANF avoided to give the details and said that they would prove before court since how long he was involved and what was going on? “To disclose this will be little earlier and might harm the case that this stage.”

About the criticism going on against ANF why it did not make footage of the action, Major General Malik said their perception was wrong that cameras start filming the event when such action used to start. “This cannot happen that we say that stop, and retake as video is being made. It is a live situation. It is a war situation,” he said.

DG also clarified that they had not sought physical remand of the lawmaker because they have sufficient evidence against him to prove in the court. “If we had sought his physical remand, critics would say that he was being coerced,” he said and added: “When you have sufficient evidence, you don’t mind to go to judicial remand.” He said seeking physical remand meant that you did not have evidence and you still have to investigate the case. He also said the force didn’t want to face allegations that Sanaullah was being physically tortured.

Replying to question that the version of events during the arrest as narrated in the FIR did not lead to believe that the politician was carrying narcotics, the DG said the facts described in the FIR looked odd but these were facts. “If you have to concoct the story in the FIR, you can write it in any way.”

Responding a question whether some investigations are underway against parliamentarians for their alleged involvement in narcotics smuggling, the DG advised media not to create fear among people that such investigation was underway. “Whosoever is involved, we will bring them to book,” he added.

Giving details about performance of ANF, Malik said ANF had made highest seizure of drugs across the world in last three or four years. The conviction rate in ANF cases is 95 percent, he said.

“We seized 300 metric tonnes drugs worth more than $4 billion in international market last year,” he said. Due to efforts of ANF, Pakistan enjoys poppy-free status since year 2001 despite the fact that its neighbour Afghanistan cultivates 85 drugs of world drugs, he added.

He concluded that media role was very positive to help ANF in winning war against menace of drugs.