His word is law: A sad tale of victimization and nepotism

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who tries to portray himself as a reformist and always claims to be a torch-bearer of justice, violated laws and judicial norms, in many cases, to favour some groups and individuals, close to him.

Truth Tracker obtained multiple documents and details that reveal that the outgoing CJP showed lenience towards some individuals and mafias, ignoring laws and rules. He did some great services to the people of Pakistan like initiative for construction of dams, reduction in the prices of stents for angioplasty and several others. At the same time, his kindness to some individuals and groups caused loss to exchequer and people of Pakistan.

Chairman of Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) Sheikh Akhtar Hussain.

In a such case, his outright support to Chairman of Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) Sheikh Akhtar Hussain, a close friend of the CJP’s son in law, and pharmaceutical mafias deprived Pakistanis of the cheapest treatment for hepatitis C tells a sad tale of victimization and nepotism, establishing that law in books is not more effective than the CJP’s intentions and words. Documents and records obtained by Truth Tracker support the perception.

If he had dealt with DRAP according to the law, Pakistanis would have received the cheapest ever treatment for hepatitis C, and pharmaceutical mafia would have not increased the drugs’ prices in connivance with DRAP.

The story started when Chief Justice took a suo moto notice against unregistered and spurious medicines and Everest Pharma and its owner Chaudhry Muhammad Usman faced music.

The DRAP insiders say that it was quite mysterious when DRAP received an application of Saleem Akhtar, a resident of Nazimabad, Karachi about unregistered and spurious medicines, manufactured by Everest Pharma in February 2018. On March 6, 2018 the CJP took a Suo Moto notice in regarding unregistered and spurious medicines business. CEP DRAP Hussain presented that complaint against M/S Everest Pharma in the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, owner of Everest Pharm Muhammad Usman was arrested from the court’s premises without any charge while the FIR against him was registered later (Record of FIA Police Station Islamabad shows).

More than 200 registered medicines of Everest Pharma were seized by illegal orders of DRAP which was totally against DRUG Act, 1976 as no registered medicines can be confiscated without Lab report.

More than 80 FIR’s registered against Ch. Muhammad Usman on the same allegation which is against the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s order passed by Asif Saeed Khosa. Multiple FIR on same allegation are not allowed.

Meanwhile, Hussain told the CJP that then Regional Police Officer (RPO) Bahawalpur Raja Riffat Mukhtar is influencing the inquiry and action against Usman and Everest Pharma as he is a relative of the accused. The honourable CJ called RPO and IG Punjab to the court where IG told the learned court that the officer enjoys a good reputation. Later, the CJP ordered an inquiry by FIA against the RPO and the inquiry report reiterated that Riffat Mukhtar is a dutiful police officer having a clean and brilliant record.

Usman is still in jail as he could not get bails in all 80 cases, registered on the same allegations. His factory, which was providing registered and quality medicines to people of Pakistan at economical rates has been closed.

The sad tale of DRAP-Everest Pharma started in 2014 when Feroz Sons Pharma, a company of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s in-laws started importing Sofovir 400 mg from the US for the treatment of Hepatitis C and sold a moth course for Rs 56000. Meanwhile, another pharmaceutical company M/S Everest Pharma started manufacturing the same salt in Pakistan with the name of Sovier 400 mg. The low priced Sovier would cost only Rs 4000/per month to the hepatitis patients while the price for a single pill was Rs 90 against Rs 1300/pill of Sofovir.

Truth Tracker obtained clinical trial reports, conducted in India and local reputed experts, which say, “Everest Pharma’s tablet was found good for curing hepatitis C patients and is 97 percent effective.” The efficacy rate of Sovier was found higher than Sofovir which irritated pharmaceutical firms importing the medicine.

Meanwhile, Owner of Everest Pharma Chaudhry Usman initiated a battle with DRAP to register his product but faced immense resistance by then Chairman DRAP Aslam Afghani and Then Director Quality DRAP Sheikh Akhtar Hussain (Now Chairman). The Lahore and Islamabad High Courts records and orders, obtained by Truth Tracker, clearly show that the learned courts ordered registration of the product in a set time, and that DRAP authorities in writing submitted reply that a DRAP’s board had approved the registration of the drug that would be registered after negotiation with the company about the drug’s price.  Regrettably, it never happened as pharmaceutical mafias never wanted Everest Pharma to exist anymore.  It is worth mentioning here that Everest Pharma was established in 2004 and kept selling over 200 registered medicines on cheaper prices than the same products of the other companies.

DRAP’s top guns Afghani and Hussain, according to a DRAP insider, had serious grudges against Usman as they had vested interests with the other pharmaceutical companies and imports of high-priced medicines. “They generated a bogus complaint against Everest Pharma of manufacturing spurious and unregistered drugs, and raided the company and also registered two FIRs in 2015. The first FIR related to a drug with the name of ‘Everlong’ was already registered vide Letter No 077718 on 15-1-2014.”

The second FIR was registered on the charges of forging registration certificates on 16-11-2015 whereas the issuance of certificates was notified in the Government of Pakistan’s Gazette, dated 27-11-2013. However, Everest Pharm remained closed till Islamabad High Court ordered quashment of the FIRs on 22-4-16.

Usman filed a petition in Islamabad High Court against Dr Aslam Afghani’s appointment as the DRAP chief as he was over-aged that led to further troubles to Usman. In 2018, Dr Hussain took charge as the acting CEO of DRAP and Usman again challenged his appointment in Islamabad High Court. Proceedings started but were stopped after NAB Chairman initiated an inquiry against him.

Hussain, according to highly informed DRAP insiders, is a close friend of Mian Khalid, son-in-law of the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan and owner of Popular Chemical Works. “He takes care of Khalid’s interests in DRAP,” says an insider.

He is an accused in NAB references 40/2001 and 16/2004 on the allegations of illegally releasing raw material to drugs manufacturers. He, initially show himself dead, and did not appear before NAB. The bureau initiated another inquiry against him for trying to cheat on the state institution. But, the honourable Chief Justice CJP stopped NAB ordering permission of Supreme Court of Pakistan before proceeding further, and the reasons for it are yet to be known.

Hussain bags allowance for PhD degree holder officials without having HEC recognized degree.

DRAP records showed that he held holds multiple positions as Director Admin, Director QA & LT and Acting CEO which is against DRAP Act. But, the guardians of laws completely overlooked these irregularities.

DG FIA in his report mentioned, “Hussain misuses the name of Chief Justice to avoid NAB and FIA inquires. Further serious irregularities in his appointments appear pranks with rules and regulations.”

He is a grade 19 officer but enjoys powers of CEO equivalent to grade 21. He has been appointed as Member & Secretary Drug Policy Board that is the supreme authority of DRAP. At the same time, he became Chairman Drug Appellate Board (DAB) which is the Appellate Authority of all the statuary board working in the DRAP.

He is Director QA & LT by virtue of his post acts as a member of Central Licensing Board (CLB). This Board is governed under the chairmanship of Director Licensing who reports to Hussain because of his position as CEO, DRAP. In this way, Chairman reports to its members that create conflict of interest under the law (DRAP Act, 2012).

Director Medical Devices is a member of Drug Registration Board (DRB). This board is governed under the chairmanship of Director Registration who reports to Hussain because of his position as CEO, DRAP. In this way, Chairman reports to its members that creates conflict of interest under the law (DRAP Act, 2012).

CEO is the Chairman DAB and hears appeals against CLB and DRB. It is absolutely unlawful.

CEO acts as a member and secretary of Drug Policy Board that formulates policy of working, supervises performance and acts as the ultimate appellate authority of all DRAP functions. He occupies different functional positions as Director in DRAP. So, he will hear all complaints against him.

Authorities ignored all rule and due process of appointment to accommodate Hussain as the CEO. According to the record, advertisement for the slot of CEO DRAP was published late in March 2018. It should have been published, processed and finalized before the end of tenure of previous CEO. Meanwhile, charge of CEO (equivalent to grade 21) was given to Hussain, an officer of BPS-19 without considering any merit or seniority or conflict of interest etc. He was already holding three additional charges of grade 20 at that time within DRAP.

Drug Policy Board (DPB) was competent authority to select and recommend the name of the selected CEO to the Federal Government. Hussain being the Secretary of Drug Policy Board was engaged in developing strategy for the appointment of CEO whereas he, himself, was a candidate.

DPB changed its procedure for screening and this time Ferguson was not engaged for the screening purpose. Applicant fulfilling all the criteria of advertisement and law were completed ignored without assigning any reason.

Interestingly, the interview was conducted on a day when it was clearly banned by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Secretary DPB appeared himself in the interview before the Committee formed by the DPB and resultantly the committee recommended his name on top. It is learnt that DPB opened secret letters/reports before the private members and attempted several times to get the appointment CEO finalized.

Akhtar Hussain, involved in multiple scams, is safe and working as the honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan barred FIA and NAB from taking any action against him without prior permission of the court.

Recently, the government approved an increase of 9 to 15 percent in the prices of medicines on the recommendation of DRAP which means on the recommendations of the CEO DRAP Akhtar Hussain, who, allegedly enjoys strong ties with pharma mafias and owns assets more than his income.

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