Maryam, grandmother meet ex-PM in jail

Updated January 18, 2019

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Nawaz complains of lack of facilities. ─ DawnNewsTV
Nawaz complains of lack of facilities. ─ DawnNewsTV

LAHORE: Incarcerated at Kot Lakhpat jail, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he feels unease during the nights because of the lack of the “desired facilities”.

“Because of the cold I often do not feel well at night. The heater is not functioning and I had asked for another one but it has not been provided yet,” he was quoted as having said by a PML-N leader who called on him on Thursday. Reportedly, the ousted premier also complained of “uncleanliness” in his barracks, that jail authorities had refused to give him an assistant (mushaqati), and asked him to clean his own quarters.

However, earlier, on the protest of the PML-N, jail authorities had allowed Mr Sharif’s cardiologist to examine him, who suggested various tests.

Mr Sharif was also visited by family members, including his mother, Shamim Akhtar, who broke into tears. His daughter Maryam Nawaz, meanwhile, had brought a variety of food items that they shared for lunch.

Amongst the other visitors Mr Sharif received were Ali Haider, son of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani. With the PML-N and the PPP drawing together somewhat in the wake of the PTI government’s perceived “harsh anti-corruption” measures against the two parties’ leaderships, Mr Haider was the second PPP leader to have visited Mr Sharif in jail, after Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood. This, a PPP leader told Dawn, was significant.

Nawaz complains of lack of facilities

A good number of PML-N workers also gathered outside the jail and chanted slogans in favour of the party leadership. Upon the arrival of Maryam, the crowd became more charged, chanting “Mian sahib we love you” — sloganeering that Maryam joined in whilst seated in her car. Some of the workers wanted to meet their leader in jail, but were denied permission.

PML-N leaders Hamza Shahbaz, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Pervaiz Malik, Amir Muqam, Zafar Iqbal Jhagra and Tehmina Daultana were also amongst those who visited Mr Sharif on Thursday.

Talking to reporters outside the incarceration facility, Mr Muqam said the difficult times the Sharif family found itself in would soon be over, and termed the corruption charges against the brothers “false”. Criticising Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said that the premier had taken a U-turn from his party manifesto. Mr Muqam added 2020 would be the year of mid-term elections and the PML-N would get the people’s mandate, as that of the PTI was “fake”. Further, he said that the PML-N was not in a hurry to topple the PTI government as the public would rise against the latter soon because of its anti-people policies.

Also present was Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, who opined that the time was ripe for the formation of an alliance such as the MRD. “The opposition is uniting not against a dictator but a political party [the PTI], and this will become a drive against the government to restore real democracy,” he said.

Tehmina Daultana told reporters that Mr Sharif was not well and should be provided proper medical care. Criticising the PTI government for a price hike and inflation, she accused the prime minister of going abroad carrying a begging bowl to no avail. Mr Sharif was moved to Kot Lakhpat jail on Dec 25, a day after he was sentenced by an Islamabad accountability court to seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2019