Highlights National News

State minister denies friendship with alleged cocaine dealer

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi on Sunday denied that he was friends with an alleged cocaine dealer.

According to claims circulating on social media, the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) arrested a man from an upscale part of the capital and recovered a large quantity of cocaine from his possession.

It has been claimed that the man supplied cocaine to parties in the capital and was a close friend of the state minister.

A photograph has also been circulated on social media allegedly showing the man standing beside Mr Afridi.

Mr Afridi, however, stated in a video that “criminal-minded people” had uploaded photos with him online and were “giving the impression that they are my friends.”

He said as a political worker, he cannot stop anyone from taking photos standing beside him.

He said he had launched an anti-drugs campaign with the support of the prime minister.

“I am raising awareness against drugs on roads, on buses and in mosques. I have nothing to do with those who are seen in the pictures with me. I assume that the person took the pictures during the anti-drugs campaign. My and Imran Khan’s vision is to make the country drug-free,” he said.

Mr Afridi claimed people were trying to defame him because he was campaigning against drugs.

When contacted, ANF Director Headquarters Riaz Soomro told Dawn: “We are still in the process of investigation, and we are not in a position to confirm or deny whether he had a link to the minister.”

He said it would be “inappropriate” at this stage to link the suspect to the minister.

This is not the first time Mr Afridi has been linked to someone held for possessing drugs.

On Jan 7, after a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Mr Afridi said before the press that action would be taken against anyone caught with drugs regardless of their kinship.

Mr Afridi was then asked if he was related to Talal Nadir Afridi, who was arrested in Attock on Dec 11 for drug possession. The minister said: “Whoever he is, action will be taken against him in accordance with the law.”

He went on to say he had an extended family and his father had married thrice.

Nadir Afridi was arrested along with three others for possession of 507 grams of hashish.

The address he gave to the police was House No 3 in the Minister’s Enclave, and he stated his father’s name as Farrukh Jamal Afridi.

PML-N lawmaker Hina Pervaiz Butt had submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly after the incident to condemn the recovery of drugs from the state minister’s relative.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Islamabad police claimed that 12 people were arrested for possession of liquor and drugs.

The Margalla police arrested someone allegedly involved in supply of drugs to educational institutions and recovered one kilogram hashish from him while the Secretariat police arrested two people and recovered 1.6kg hashish from them.

The Banigala police recovered 10 litres of liquor from an individual, and Noon police recovered 510gm of hashish from two people.

Khanna, Sihala, Koral and Golra police also recovered drugs and liquor from various suspects.

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