A Pakistani court on Thursday issued arrest warrant for Prime Minister nominee Makhdoom Shahabuddin in connection with alleged irregularities in the imports of a controlled drug while he was the country's Health Minister.
Acting on a request from the Anti-Narcotics Force, an anti-narcotics court in the northern city of Rawalpindi issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for Shahabuddin on charges of alleged irregularities in the import of a large amount of the controlled drug Ephedrine during his tenure as Health Minister.
Special Court judge Shafqatullah Khan also issued arrest warrant for Ali Musa Gilani, who allegedly influenced officials of the Health Ministry to allocate out-of-turn quotas to two Multan-based pharmaceutical companies to import 9,000 kilogram of Ephedrine worth seven billion rupees, used for manufacturing asthma drugs.
Ali Musa Gilani is the son of disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The judge directed officials to arrest and present both of them in his court within a week.
The arrest warrants were issued a day after President Asif Ali Zardari nominated Shahabuddin, who was Textiles Minister in the Gilani Cabinet, as the new Prime Minister candidate of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
Shahabuddin, who was filing his nomination papers for the election of the new Premier by the National Assembly or Lower House of Parliament, refused to comment on reporters' questions about the arrest warrant, while the junior Gilani denied allegations that he influenced Health Ministry officials.
The ex-Prime Minister said charges against his son were baseless.
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday disqualified Gilani from holding office, nearly two months after convicting him of contempt of court. A Division Bench of the nation's apex court had on April 26 convicted him of contempt for disobeying a court order by not writing to the Swiss authorities seeking re-opening of a money laundering case against President Zardari.
PPP has also fielded another Federal Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, as its "covering" candidate in case Shahabuddin was rejected by lawmakers when they meet late on Friday to elect a new Premier.
Shahabuddin, who had also served in the Cabinet of late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is expected to win the election easily as he has the backing of the entire ruling coalition which has a comfortable majority in the Parliament.
Still, he is liable to comply with the Supreme Court's order for launching a corruption inquiry against Zardari, resistance to which cost Gilani his job.
A staunch loyalist of the Bhutto family who hails from a revered spiritual family in south Punjab, Shahabudin served as Benazir Bhutto's Finance Minister during 1993-96. He also held the health portfolio in Gilani's Cabinet before becoming Textiles Minister.
by RTT Staff Writer
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