Former PM Abbasi withdraws application for better prison facilities

Updated 29 Oct 2019

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Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday withdrew an application seeking better prison facilities. — AFP/File
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday withdrew an application seeking better prison facilities. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday withdrew an application seeking better prison facilities.

Mr Abbasi had moved the application under rules 245 and 248 of the Pakistan Prison Rules arguing that the non-provision of required facilities had affected his health, thereby violating articles 9, 10 and 14 of the Constitution.

He had sought a prescribed diet, a toaster and microwave oven, a refrigerator, an air conditioner, a television, newspapers, books and a bed at his own expense.

However, when Mr Abbasi was produced before the accountability court by National Accountability Bureau prosecutors alongside former finance minister Miftah Ismail, he told accountability judge Mohammad Bashir that he did not require improved prison facilities and would rather stay with the rest of the inmate population.

Mr Abbasi is on judicial remand during the investigation of the LNG Terminal case.

He told the press outside the court that he wanted to surrender his right to better facilities because he did not want to bother the Punjab chief minister and the prime minister for B-Class facilities.

He said he withdrew his request because he decided “not to create problems for them”.

At the outset of the hearing, Barrister Sadia Abbasi complained to the judge that Islamabad police had stopped Mr Abbasi’s relatives from entering the courtroom even though they had prior permission from the court. Judge Bashir then directed security officials to allow in people whose names were on the approved list.

Mr Abbasi also told the judge that a medical board had recommended he undergo surgery. According to his medical report, he is suffering from hernia pain, gallbladder pain and hypertension.

He asked the court to allow him to undergo surgery at a private hospital at his own expense. He also asked for his case to be covered live so the people of Pakistan could learn about the corruption of their elected representatives.

NAB has been investigating the LNG Terminal case for a year and a half, Mr Abbasi said, and he has been under arrest for more than 100 days.

Judge Bashir said live coverage was not permissible under the law, and the Lahore High Court (LHC) has also passed a judgement in this regard. He offered that Mr Abbasi could peruse the LHC judgement as well.

Mr Abbasi also asked that he be provided a laptop computer in prison to prepare for his case, to which a NAB prosecutor responded that prisoners are not allowed under the law to use laptop computers or other electronic devices in jail.

Mr Abbasi quipped that if he is not permitted a computer, the prosecution may also be asked to prepare the reference without one.

The court extended Mr Abbasi, Mr Ismail and a former Pakistan State Oil managing director’s judicial remand for 14 days and adjourned proceedings until Nov 11.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2019