Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) busted a massive network smuggling drugs to India and with it found an underworld don in uniform. The drug-smuggling network was being operated by none other than the head of Lahore Police’s anti-narcotics wing, Mazhar Iqbal.
The network, headed by Mazhar Iqbal, used to smuggle drugs, especially heroin, to India using drones, authorities told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
Iqbal, a former deputy superintendent of police, was heading the Anti-Narcotics Investigation Unit of Lahore Police when the ANF unearthed the drug-smuggling racket.
Since 1994, Iqbal has been dismissed from service six times and suspended 45 times for his involvement in illegal activities. Most of the cases against him are related to drug trafficking. What is astounding is that Iqbal was given the key post of anti-narcotics department of Lahore Police despite such a dubious track record.
According to senior police officials in Pakistan, Mazhar Iqbal has amassed substantial wealth through these illegal activities.
The announcement of the network being busted was made by Pakistani Rangers last week. The Rangers claimed to have arrested six Indians inside Pakistani territory for allegedly trying to smuggle “narcotics, weapons and ammunition”.
Four of the arrested smugglers — Gurmeet Singh, Shinder Singh, Juginder Singh, and Vishal Jagga — are from Firozpur in Punjab. While Rattan Pal Singh and Garvender Singh are from Jalandhar and Ludhiana, respectively.
ACTION AGAINST MAZHAR IQBAL
Action against Mazhar Iqbal was initiated after the interrogation of the arrested Indians, officials said. However, authorities were not able to arrest him as he had secured a pre-arrest bail.
“An FIR has been registered against Lahore Police anti-narcotics wing head Mazhar Iqbal for his alleged involvement in the cross-border (India) smuggling of drugs through drones. We could not arrest him as he has secured a pre-arrest bail,” Lahore Deputy Inspector General (Investigation) Imran Kishwar told Dawn. The police case against Mazhar Iqbal was registered in the last week of August.
“We have constituted a high-powered committee of senior police officers to further expand the scope of the investigation into the illegal cross-border smuggling of drugs,” he said.
Initial investigations suggest that Iqbal and his network facilitated drug transportation from the Pakistani city of Kasur to India using drones. The investigation reveals that Mazhar Iqbal was involved in transporting over 30kg of heroin to India through drones and he used to receive payment for his services in Dubai.
The ANF also told Dawn that the ex-police officer had recovered 35kg of drugs and three cars from the residence of drug smuggler Ahmad, but released him after lodging a case of 450 grams of drugs only. Mazhar has reportedly been by the ANF for allegedly taking Rs 75 million from the drug smuggler.
MAZHAR IQBAL’S WEALTH
Mazhar Iqbal has reportedly amassed billions of rupees in assets. According to Dawn, he also has a fleet of luxurious cars and lives in a four-kanal house in posh Defence Housing Authority Lahore. He is also fond of collecting weapons from different countries, especially the US.
Many senior officials were aware of Mazhar Iqbal’s long-standing involvement in cross-border terrorism, but he allegedly used financial incentives to secure their complicity. He also enjoyed the backing of some key political figures in Pakistan.
THE DRUG NETWORK
According to the police investigation, a drone used by Mazhar Iqbal’s network would carry up to 6 kg of drugs and deliver the consignment in Punjab after flying across the border.
Pakistan Police said it was hopeful of hunting down other members of Iqbal’s network in Lahore.