Challenge Rana Sanaullah to face trial ‘like a man’, Afridi says in Assembly

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) and Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi on Tuesday lashed out at PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah and challenged the former Punjab law minister — who is nominated in a drug case — to “face trial like a man”.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, Afridi said Sanaullah did not want to face the court in the drug case filed against him by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).

“I’ve been told that he is carrying around the Holy Quran with him. Rana sahib, learn to follow the Holy Quran. If you are speaking the truth, go to the courts and fight like a man. Don’t beat around the bush,” said a visibly charged Afridi. He was referring to a previous National Assembly sitting where Sanaullah had brought a copy of the Holy Quran and sworn that he was innocent.

The Safron minister told the House that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf “did not come into power to target or bully others”.

Afridi was briefly interrupted by the chanting of opposition members on the arrival of Sanaullah, who came to the parliament carrying a file.

“I thought you’d bring a copy of the Holy Quran, but you have brought a file today,” the state minister remarked and added: “Let’s take this [matter] to its logical end here in the House, today. There is a hearing on January 18th. Let him stand and say, in this House, that a trial should be initiated so that the truth can come out.

“Don’t run away. This government and ministry will not let you run away. We will take this to the end because this matter concerns my generations and my country.”

Afridi said that members from opposition parties commend him for being a “man’s son”.

“It’s not me who is the son of a man, it is the people who stand before tyrants. We will take this [case] to its end. Read my eyes Rana sahib. Initiate the trial so that the truth can come out.”

Sanaullah, in response to Afridi, once again denied his involvement in the case.

“May God curse me if I have ever been in contact with a heroin dealer or tried to influence on behalf of anyone,” said the PML-N leader. He went on to say that the ANF officials, who arrested him last year, had no idea about the case being prepared against him.

“I have been accused of having links with an international gang which supplies drugs all over the world after bringing it to Lahore and Faisalabad from Afghanistan. If it is true then why has the government not arrested any other member of the gang when I was in jail for seven months?” asked Sanaullah, adding: “No inquiry has been conducted in the case.”

The former Punjab law minister said that the trial of a case can only start after registration of a first information report and completion of inquiry.

Afridi was given the floor once more when the National Assembly sitting resumed after a short break, but the Safron minister refused to speak without a copy of the Holy Quran in his hand. The request was denied by PTI’s Syed Fakhar Imam, who presided over today’s sitting. Imam admitted that since Sanaullah had been allowed to speak with a Holy Quran in his hand, Afridi should be allowed to do the same, but said that such a tradition should not be set in the parliament. The speaker told Afridi to speak on oath, without holding the Holy Quran but the latter refused.

Imam adjourned the sitting until Wednesday morning after a ruckus in the parliament.

In July last year, the former Punjab law minister was arrested by the ANF Lahore team while he was travelling from Faisalabad to Lahore near the Ravi Toll Plaza on the motorway, claiming to have seized 15kg heroin from his vehicle. A special team of the force had also arrested five others, including the driver and security guards of the PML-N leader.

Sanaullah, who insists that he has been arrested in a false case and is being politically victimised, was granted bail by the Lahore High Court in December.