Hamza Shehbaz contracts Covid-19 during incarceration

Updated 13 Sep 2020

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PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz. — DawnNewsTV
PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz. — DawnNewsTV

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday said that his son Hamza has contracted Covid-19 during his incarceration.

Following the report, PML-N Deputy Secretary General Attaullah Tarar wrote a letter to Punjab's additional chief secretary, requesting to shift Hamza to the Ittefaq Hospital in Lahore. According to the letter, Hamza has been experiencing virus symptoms for the past week and is unwell.

It further said that Hamza's physician Dr Rizwan Akhtar works at the Ittefaq Hospital and has the politician's medical history.

Tarrar said that the letter was not being "received".

"We are not even being told the reason why our request is not being received. If we are not heard, we will knock the court's doors," he said.

Hamza, who is the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, has been in the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) custody since June last year. The bureau is investigating two different cases against Hamza regarding money laundering and holding assets beyond means.

Shehbaz said that his son, after facing cases during the Pervez Musharraf era, was now "bravely fighting political victimisation by the NAB-Niazi nexus". He asked people to pray for his son's recovery.

Reacting to Shehbaz's comments, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar said that Hamza was not in jail because of a political crime but for corruption.

"Hamza's appeal has been rejected by the high court. Do you [Shehbaz] want that he be sent to London like your brother?" asked Akbar, referring to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif who is currently in the UK.

PML-N vice-president and Nawaz's daughter, Maryam, accused the government of not giving Hamza "the required medical attention".

"This oppressive regime has been toying with the health of political opponents by keeping them in inhuman conditions. My brother Hamza Shehbaz Sharif is the latest victim of this brutality who has tested positive for Covid-19 but not being given the required medical attention," she said on Twitter.

She said Hamza "has unjustly and illegally been incarcerated for more than a year now".

Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb demanded that Hamza be immediately shifted from Kot Lakhpat jail to a hospital. She said Hamza has had high fever for the last three days and his condition could worsen.

In March, as parts of the country went into a lockdown due to the rising coronavirus cases, Hamza sought bail from the Lahore High Court.

"The confined space of a prison makes it virtually impossible to implement the policy of social distancing. The prisoners are vulnerable and exposed to suffer irreparably in case of an outbreak. God forbid, a prison outbreak is likely to present potentially deadly risk to its inmates," read his petition.

It further said that in the ten months since the National Accountability Bureau had arrested Hamza, no reference was filed against him by the anti-graft watchdog.