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LAHORE: A full-fledged High Security Prison (HSP) in Sahiwal, which is going to be functional in next one and a half months or so, will be the first jail to confine dangerous and high-profile prisoners from across the country.

Dangerous prisoners from all Punjab jails will be shifted to the HSP on a priority basis.

The jail, which will have automatic locking system in individual cells, will also accommodate high-profile prisoners from other provinces as well following a provision incorporated in the recently passed the Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014, Dawn has learnt.

The jail will have 70 per cent of cellular confinement (500 individual cells) and 30 per cent barrack system (six barracks).

Official statistics available with Dawn show that there are up to 1,000 high-profile prisoners, who are either convicted or under trial in connection with sectarianism, terrorism and bomb blasts. These prisoners are currently detained in high security barracks of Lahore, Faisalabad, Sahiwal and Multan.

Prisoners from other provinces may be shifted

Sources privy to the development told this reporter that the structure of the jail had been raised and recruitment of 600 uniformed and civilian staff was under process.

They said total cost of the jail along with other paraphernalia was estimated up to Rs1.5 billion out of which Rs226 million would be released in the current fiscal for purchase of security-led gadgetry. The total cost has been revised from Rs930.2m to Rs1.5 billion.

The gadgetry included CCTV cameras, computers, delta barriers, tyre puncturing system, jamming devices, walkthrough gates, and watch towers.

Of Rs488m allocation for the current fiscal year, the government would release Rs226 million for gadgetry and an amount of Rs150m had already been spent on other heads of the jail. The rest of the amount would be utilised for purchasing furniture, crockery, medical equipment, arms and ammunition.

Sources said five-layer security and round-the-clock patrolling by Elite Police and jail commandoes would be the new salient features of the jail, adding three patrolling vehicles had already been bought for the purpose.

They said a stock of medicines worth Rs0.7m had already been reserved at adjacent Sahiwal Central Jail to run medical facility at the HSP.

According to a senior jail official, the high security barracks (each barrack accommodates up to 60 prisoners) situated in provincial central jails would later be converted into punishment blocks.

He said a provision in the Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 which says, “A person convicted of a scheduled offence subject to direction of the government may be confined at any place in Pakistan including the prisons established by the provincial and federal governments” would allow the federal government to shift any prisoner lying in any jail in the country to the Sahiwal HSP.

The official said after the HSP started functioning, some high-profile prisoners from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa were expected to be shifted keeping in view two terrorist attacks on KP central jails and the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan.

He said the new provision in the anti-terror law would exempt any province from seeking permission from the other province for confining their prisoners.

The official said the provincial prisons department was also constructing another HSP in Mianwali district which was likely to be operational in June next year.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd , 2014