Narcotics Control Minister Shehryar Afridi felt the need to highlight the achievements of the Anti-Narcotics Force two days after it arrested PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah for possession of drugs.
He addressed a press conference along with ANF DG Major General Muhammad Arif Malik in Islamabad on Thursday.
“The force has arrested more than 1,200 people. They were also someone’s brother, children, and family members. Why did the PML-N leaders stay quiet when they were being arrested and are raising their voices now?” asked Afridi.
He said that Sanaullah was arrested after the force received credible information about his involvement in the narcotics trade. “There was an arrest at the Faisalabad airport after which we got a lead. The ANF has been monitoring Sanaullah’s movement for the past three weeks.”
Three times, they didn’t make the arrest because Sanaullah was travelling with family members, he claimed. “The force didn’t stop him in a sign of respect for the women in his family,” Afridi remarked.
ANF claims to have seized 15 kilogrammes of heroin from Sanaullah’s car. The PML-N leader, on the other hand, has denied the charge. Sanaullah’s wife suggested the drugs were planted in the car.
“It is not just about 15kg of heroin. It’s about Pakistan’s image,” said Afridi.
The ‘big’ people aren’t stopped at toll plazas like other people, he said, adding that no one questions them. “It is high time that people are shown that no one is above the law,” he added. “You think people who take drugs on the roadside and under bridges are the only drug users in our society? We have to catch these big, big crocodiles [sic] too.”
He said that his party does not have any enmity with anyone. “We just want to set an example. PM Khan believes in zero tolerance towards corruption. We have to catch the big fish.”
Sanaullah’s judicial remand
On Tuesday, a Lahore court approved the judicial remand of Sanaullah for 14 days. PML-N leaders have criticised this and claimed that the force is framing the party leader without even investigating him.
The ANF DG said that the force didn’t ask for Sanaullah’s physical remand because they have enough evidence against him. “It didn’t matter if we got his judicial remand or physical remand,” said Major General Malik.
“We ask for someone’s physical remand when we have no evidence against them,” he said. “We also didn’t want people to say that Sanaullah accepted his crimes after being tortured in our custody.”
The DG said that the case is currently being heard by the court and declined to answer more questions about it.
“ANF is a professional and competent force, which is recognised internationally too,” said Major General Malik.
Last year, we seized 300 metric tonnes of drugs worth $4 billion, he said. “Pakistan enjoys a poppy-free status because of us.”
The force has arrested more than 1,200 people this year, he said. “Our conviction rate is 95%.”
He said that the menace of drugs needs to be curbed. It is spreading to different institutes and something needs to be done about it, he urged.
“There are three main functions of the ANF. It patrols the border, conducts intelligence-based operations and put an end to drug trade through international cooperation,” said Afridi.