KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court in Karachi remanded former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain to police custody for four days over his alleged involvement in facilitating terrorists at his private hospital. Sindh Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Asim who has been in the custody of Rangers for three months was handed over to the police yesterday. Following the interrogation during the three-month detention, Sindh Rangers registered a case against Dr Asim at North Nazimabad police station.

Dr Asim served as federal minister for petroleum during the Pakistan Peoples Party government. Rangers arrested Dr Asim on August 26 under Section 11-EEEE of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and conducted investigation during the three-month detention for his alleged involvement in facilitating the terrorists and corruption. The Rangers registered an FIR against Dr Asim for helping criminals and terrorists by providing them with medical facilities and sheltering them at his hospital in Karachi.

The FIR stated that Dr Asim facilitated criminals and terrorists belonging to banned organisations as well as the activists of Lyari gang war and political parties in his North Nazimabad and Clifton hospitals. Dr Asim was said to have also informed the probe team that he had committed the offence on the request of three leaders of a certain political party and also a leader of the ruling party in Sindh. Dr Asim was shifted to the district central police headquarters in the wee hours of Wednesday while heavy contingents of police and Rangers escorted him to the ATC in armed personnel carrier, where the judge allowed a four-day physical remand.

Dr Asim is a close aide of PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari. The PPP has condemned his arrest, which comes amid the ongoing military-driven crackdown in Karachi. The party leaders were not immediately available for comment. According to the police report filed against Asim Hussain, he confessed during investigation that his two hospitals treated militants, criminals belonging to Karachi’s notorious gangs and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that is accused by authorities of political corruption and violence.

“Knowingly breaking the law, wanted accused and terrorists were sheltered at the hospitals,” the report said, quoting Asim Hussain’s confession. It also said Asim Hussain had confessed to misusing his position as petroleum minister to make illegal appointments and grant contracts illegally. The handcuffed Asim Hussain was brought to an anti-terrorism court in an armoured vehicle escorted by seven police and Rangers vans. Most of hundreds of people targeted by paramilitary forces in recent months on accusations of corruption and violence belonged to MQM which has been dominating Karachi politics for decades. Karachi, a metropolis of 20 million people that hosts the stock exchange and central bank, is beset by armed violence. Many of its sprawling slums are no-go areas for outsiders.