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RAWALPINDI: PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has begun his prison term in Adiala jail, has said the whole country has been turned into a “prison” and the time has come for the people to “break all shackles”.

“Spread my message across houses, streets, villages [of the country]. Come out and defeat those who insult your votes in a way that they will never raise their heads again,” said Mr Sharif in an audio message recorded at an undisclosed place and at an unknown time.

In his message in circulation on the social media, Mr Sharif asked the people to “come out on July 25, holding aloft the flag of ‘vote ko izzat do [honour the vote]” to celebrate a grand and memorial day of victory”.

Mr Sharif, who returned to the country on Friday after leaving his ailing wife in a London hospital, said the people needed to end the game that had been going on for the past 70 years and which had turned Quaid-i-Azam’s Pakistan into a “circus”.

The PML-N supreme leader alleged that he and his daughter Maryam Nawaz had been imprisoned to keep them away from the masses. But “they don’t know that jails and prisons cannot break my relation with you. Neither any dictator has succeeded in doing so in the past nor those who are presently pulling the strings can do it,” he said in the two-minute audio message.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has deputed six senior prison officials for security of Mr Sharif and one female deputy superintendent and four officials for his daughter Maryam in Adiala jail.

Mr Sharif has been given Better Class, while Ms Maryam has been imprisoned in a general barrack after she refused to get Better Class facilities.

Sources said that Mr Sharif had taken his meal prepared on an electric heater in the jail on Sunday.

Although security in and around the prison had been tightened with deployment of Rangers and Elite Force commandoes the intelligence agencies have noticed lack of police check points starting from Khawaja Corporation and suggested deployment of Rangers and extra police so that the movements of individuals could be monitored.

Former minister and PML-N candidate for a National Assembly seat from Islamabad Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and a candidate for a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly seat, Khadim Ali Yousufzai, went to the prison to meet Mr Sharif but were not allowed to do so by the jail authorities.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018