Is Dr Asim Hussain the richest man in the world, surpassing Bill Gates, which to me, sounds a bit too execrated even if he allegedly has $88 billion market cap?, as revealed in the document, but, all this yet to be proved in the court.
After meeting him for few hours in a Jinnah hospital’s executive ward, the man looked confident though, not happy with his party’s Sindh government, as he gave details of his “ordeal” of his first 90-days of intense interrogation, in which he was also asked about his alleged meeting with former RAW, chief in India.
Dr Asim’s arrest last year became the “breaking point” between former president Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the issue which has practically ended the “friendly opposition” tag on the PPP, and the latter had joined hands with the PTI.
In a highly charged political atmosphere where all the opposition parties have joined hand to build pressure on the prime minister to constitute independent commission and may also jointly demand his resignation in May 2 meeting, the PTI may face problems in defending Jehangir Tareen and PPP in Asim’s case.
PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan once refused to defend Dr Asim over corruption allegations but condemned his trial under anti-terrorism act. However, despite instructions from Mr Zardari, that at least two PPP leaders must ensure their presence in the court whenever Asim is produced, hardly any prominent leader except senator Saeed Ghani visited him.
His reply was in “no” when asked about the Sindh government cooperation and support, but avoided adding anything further except that he has been put in this condition because of some “friends”. He said he was not sure whether Sindh government consent was sought before his arrest.
Surprisingly, he was allowed to transfer his assets to his son’s name while a high profile case of corruption is still pending, last week. No one knows how much assets were transferred on the files he had signed for his son. His wife was fighting dangerous cancer disease, abroad.
The document and JIT,( copies available) revealed he owned properties, business and has over 36 companies abroad including UAE, Kuwait, the US, the UK, Oman, Qatar, beside taking kick-backs and commission. He has also been accused of terror financing, money laundering and facilitating terrorists of the MQM and Lyari gang.
The accused has disclosed about as many as 207 cash transactions report (CTR) and one suspicious transaction report (STRs) has been raised by different banks and reported to Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), JIT said. “Yes, these are allegations on me and JIT has declared me the richest man in the world. I have more money than Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Amanico Ortega, so they say,” he said.
The list of all these companies along with dates of agreement attached 11 of such companies are in UAE while six in Kuwait. Others are in other states. Dr Asim is mostly likely to be formally charged on May 9.
He has been accused of involvement in huge illegal lands allotment, which he was suppose to use for charity trust, another plot of 2.8 acres in Clifton, one in KDA, 1347 sq yards, in North Nazimabad, for cancer hospital on similar lines.
“I have been waiting for the trial on all these allegations for the last nine months. If JIT can show Shiraz comrade, 82-year-old terrorist, don’t know my father-in-law never came to Pakistan, I have a strong case,” he added.
Although there is no mention of Asim’s alleged link with Indian RAW, but the former adviser of the Sindh government disclosed for the first time that the first three questions, which the JIT asked him were, (1) Do you know RAW chief and met him in Delhi? I said, no. (2) Do you also owned hospital in Bhopal? I said why I should have hospital in Bhopal. (3) Have you met the US ambassador to India, during your visit to Delhi? I said, no,” Asim said, while a doctor examined his blood pressure.
These days he seems to be quite fond of Islamic books, as I saw number of books in his shelve in two-room ward, with one attendant. During conversation, he twice took tablets and showed me documents of charges, which he is facing.
What happened when they first picked you? I asked. “They came to my office and asked me to accompany them for some questioning. At that time I was not blindfolded. After my first meeting with DG, Rangers, who politely said, his men would ask few questions from me,” he said.
“I was then blindfolded and they took me to a safe house, some where in North Nazimabad. Later, they shifted me to different places one of which could be near railway station, as I could hear the sound of trains,” Asim said in a very composed manner.
However, he denied he has ever been “physically tortured” “No, I was not physically hurt and during the 90-days remand I was only interrogated for 17 days, from five minute to six hours”.
“I was treated well and given comfortable room with air condition, but during questioning faced tough questions before video recording,” he said, adding most of the questions related to corruption, property but they did ask about giving treatment to MQM and Lyari gang war terrorists.
“They were four to five people during interrogation. JIT comprising representatives of ISI, MI, IB, Special Branch and two from Rangers. All have unanimously declared him as “Jet Black”, meaning most dangerous category.
According to JIT finding, the accused disclosed, (1) involvement in harbouring/facilitating the target killers of the MQM (A) and other banned organisation through providing medical facilities in his Ziauddin Hospital, which need further probe. (2) involvement in illegal and commercial use along with money laundering, (3) involved in illegal appointments, promotions, recruitment, implementation of arbitrary decisions, illegal contracts in SSGC/ PSO and others after receiving huge kickbacks. (4) Involved in illegal registration of medical college and misuse of funds in PMDC.
He was only once asked about his relation with Asif Ali Zardari. “I was once advised by a senior interrogator to name Asif and I will get the relief. I declined his offer on the pretext that there is nothing between us except close friendship”
But, JIT revealed, “he has never actively participated in political activities but remained his supporter since his (Zardari) school days. He was appointed federal minister in 2011-13, which provided him the opportunity to expand his political influence as petroleum minister to undertake massive collaborative corruption for personal goad”.
“Yes, Asif is my old friend but he was not my classmate at Petaro. I was not there when he led the protest against the then principal, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza and Abbas Rizvi were more close to him. Asif quit Petaro in class VIII, but he joined later. After school I met Asif, after a very long time in Karachi,” he added.
JIT revealed that on the instructions of Asif Zardari, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, Qadir Patel and Muzzafar Tapi looked after issues of Lyari gang and weapons supply. Accused Dr Asim also had good relations with top MQM leaders including Altaf Hussain, Dr Farooq Sattar, Nadeem Nusrat, Haider Abbas Rizvi, Waseem Akhtar and Mustafa Azizabadi.
Dr Asim Hussain has his own case to defend from money laundering to facilitating terrorists, but the NAB and Ranger’s prosecution has a huge task ahead to prove one of the biggest cases of corruption that how come a man from a middle class family became the “richest man in the world”. Can they prove it?
The writer is a senior columnist and analyst of Geo, The News and Jang