KARACHI: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi on Monday extended for five more days the remand of former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain, who expressed fears for his life and alleged that he is being tortured in custody.

The former petroleum minister – a close aide of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari– is being investigated over allegations of corruption and facilitating terrorists at his private hospital in Karachi. He was taken into custody on August 26 and has since been on remand in either Rangers or police custody.

The former minister was presented in court today, where he requested the judge to privately speak to him in his chambers without the presence of representatives of law enforcement agencies and security forces. But the ATC's administrative judge Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto rejected his request, directing him to say what he wanted to in court.

"My life is in danger. They torture me, beat me up. I am being tortured so I repeat what they want me to say like a parrot," he told the court.

Dr Asim said he was being wrongly accused of facilitating terrorists, but that he was innocent. He said that it was a 'battle of egos' and 'somebody else's dispute' but that he was being wrongly implicated. "If all evidence is with the Rangers, then why am I in custody?" he said.

"If they want to kill me they should do so in an encounter. But do not torture me like this. I am a heart patient. If I die, who will be responsible?"

Denying all charges, Dr Asim claimed that a false FIR had been lodged and a serious case is being built against him on the statement of one medical superintendent at his hospital. He claimed that the police was taking directions from "somewhere else".

The investigating officer requested the court of an extension of five days in the physical remand of the PPP leader, which was granted by the ATC's administrative judge Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto.

Dr Asim, who served as the petroleum minister during the tenure of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government , was taken into custody on August 26 under Section 11-EEEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, and a joint interrogation team was formed after getting approval from the Sindh government.

The Sindh Rangers registered a case against Dr Asim at a North Nazimabad police station last month, soon after the expiry of the 90-day remand that the paramilitary force had obtained from the anti-terrorism court for investigation after his arrest in August. He was serving as the chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission when he was arrested.