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LAHORE / RAWALPINDI: Amid unsuccessful attempts by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders and workers to meet former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in Adiala jail, the caretaker Punjab government has announced that the Sharifs have been provided all the facilities allowed under the prison manual.

Caretaker Punjab information minister Ahmad Waqas told a press conference on Wednesday that Nawaz Sharif had been given a separate room as well as a cook. The former prime minister was provided healthy food (minced meat, salad and fruit) and was regularly examined by doctors from the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology.

Mr Waqas said Nawaz also had access to an area where he could take a stroll if he wanted to.

Senator requests govt to allow PML-N workers to meet their leaders in prison

He added that Maryam enjoyed the same facilities.

Reading from a written statement, Mr Waqas said that under the jail manual prisoners could be given ‘normal’ or ‘better’ facilities, and that the Sharifs had been given better class facilities. He explained they also had access to a 21-inch TV set, a radio and newspapers.

Accompanied by Inspector General (Prisons) Malik Mubashar, the minister said members of the Sharif family could visit them on Thursdays. They had already availed themselves of this facility once, he said, adding that their lawyers, however, could visit them at any time.

Asked why the government or its jail department did not issue photos of the Sharifs instead of issuing statements, Mr Waqas said the jail laws did not allow this.

In response to a question, the minister and the IG Prisons said the two PML-N leaders should not issue audio or other statements from prison. Action would be taken to stop such acts, they added.

Meanwhile, PML-N Senator Asif Kirmani tried in vain to meet the Sharifs in the prison on Wednesday.

After being denied permission to meet the two leaders, he urged the caretaker government to change its policy and allow the PML-N members to meet the Sharifs.

While talking to journalists outside the jail, Mr Kirmani said: “I can’t make any comment about Nawaz Sharif unless I meet him. The jail administration stopped party workers and leaders but we will come frequently to the place to express our solidarity with our leaders.”

July 13, he said, was the day when Nawaz’s narrative was proved correct. “On Nawaz Sharif’s return to the homeland, the caretaker government’s neutrality was exposed as it turned Lahore into a jail,” the senator said.

“A question mark hovers over the transparency of the elections after the police act­ion against PML-N workers.”

He called it pre-election rigging but said people would foil the attempt to “wipe out the PML-N from the scene”.

In response to a question about Junaid Safdar, he said Maryam’s son had reached Pakistan and would soon meet his mother and grandfather in the prison.

Earlier, PML-N women workers reached near the prison and raised slogans against the jail authorities and the caretaker government.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018