Imran being kept in distressing conditions, morale high: lawyer

Published August 7, 2023
Former prime minister Imran Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Haider Panjotha, speaks to media outside the Attock Jail on Monday. — PTI/Twitter
Former prime minister Imran Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Haider Panjotha, speaks to media outside the Attock Jail on Monday. — PTI/Twitter

Former prime minister Imran Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Haider Panjotha, claimed on Monday that the PTI chief — who is currently incarcerated in Attock Jail in a graft case — was being kept in “distressing conditions” and provided “C-Class jail facilities”.

On Aug 5, an Islamabad trial court had declared Imran guilty of “corrupt practices” in a case pertaining to concealing details of state gifts and sentenced him to three years in prison. Soon after the verdict, he was arrested by the Punjab police from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.

The ex-premier was given B-Class facilities by the Punjab prisons department. However, his lawyers and the party claimed on Sunday they were not allowed by the jail administration to meet the PTI chairman.

The legal team said they wanted to get in touch with Imran to provide him with clothes, food and other necessary items, and also get his signatures. The jail authorities did not allow a meeting with the PTI chairman and asked the lawyers to come back on Monday to get power of attorney.

On Monday afternoon, Panjotha, spokesman to Imran on legal affairs, was finally allowed to meet the PTI chairman. The meeting lasted an hour and 45 minutes.

Narrating his conversation with Imran in a media talk, he said: “I asked Khan sahib about the situation in jail after his arrest. He said he is being kept in a dark, small, C-Class, chakki wala [manual labour] room. He said there is an open washroom there, which does not have a shower.

“He said the jail has flies in the morning and insects in the evening,” Panjotha said.

“Khan sahib said he was being given the usual daal and saag … but he said he had no issue in this regard. Along with this, he also said that he was prepared if they moved him to a D-Class jail.

“Khan sahib directed me to tell the media that he will never accept slavery,” Panjotha stated, adding that the PTI chief also paid tribute to party workers and top leadership for their “steadfastness”.

“Khan sahib also said that his house was attacked for the third time and attempts were made to break the door of his bedroom,” the lawyer said, referring to Imran’s arrest on Saturday.

Panjotha said the PTI chief directed the party’s legal team to take legal action against those who “attacked” Zaman Park and “kidnapped” him.

“He also said that the PTI core committee will decide the way forward ‘in consultation with me’ … ‘no decision will be taken by a single person’.”

The lawyer also quoted Imran as saying that the public should continue their peaceful protests and continue this “war against slavery”.

Panjotha further claimed that Imran was not allowed to meet or talk to anyone over the phone. “I am the only person who has met him since the arrest.”

Khan sahib, the lawyer continued, also expressed the difficulties he faced in offering prayers because of the small cell. “But at the same time he said he was determined despite and would never bow before slavery,” Panjotha added.

In response to a question on Imran’s heath, the lawyer said the PTI chief was clad in trousers, a t-shirt and joggers when he met him. “Khan sahib said there was an open washroom, without any doors or walls, and rainwater entered his cell last night.

“But despite all this, his morale is very high,” Panjotha said.

The lawyer further alleged that Imran was also not provided facilities of television or newspaper.

PTI moves IHC seeking A-Class jail facilities for Imran

Earlier in the day, Panjotha reached the IHC where he filed a petition, which urged the court to declare Imran’s detention in Attock Jail “illegal” and for the ex-premier to be shifted to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

The petition named the state, Islamabad Chief Commissioner Noorul Amin Mengal, and the superintendents of Adiala Jail and Attock Jail the respondents in the case.

The petition further requested for “better class/A-Class” jail facilities to be provided to the PTI chief under Rule 243 (classifying authority) of the Pakistan Prison Rules (PPR) read with Rule 248 (classification of under-trial prisoners) of the same.

Panjotha also requested that Imran be allowed to regularly meet with his legal team, family members, personal doctor Dr Faisal Sultan and political aides — the lists for which were also submitted to the court.

It stated that “it is yet to be ascertained” under which law the PTI chief had been detained at Attock Jail when the arrest warrant issued by the trial court intended for him to be kept at Adiala Jail.

The plea said that the former premier had been “confined in a 9x11 feet cell with an annexed dirty bathroom”. It further said that the room was a “dirty cell which has traditionally been reserved for terrorists”.

It said that the “respondents have been treating [Imran] like a criminal and have lodged him in a small and squeezed barrack” due to “malafide reasons and under the pressure of the political regime”.

Citing the PPR, the plea argued that Imran was “entitled to A-Class facilities” considering his “social and political status, his education and his being accustomed to a better living style”.

Noting that Imran had been denied access to his legal team, doctor, family members and political aides, the petition said that Dr Sultan’s access to Imran was required as he was aware of the PTI chief’s “entire medical history”, including the injuries caused by a fall in 2013 and last year’s Wazirabad attack.

According to the PPR, convicted prisoners are classified into superior class, ordinary class, and political class. Superior class includes A and B-Class prisoners. Ordinary class comprises prisoners other than superior class.

There are only two classes of under-trial prisoners; better class and ordinary class. Better class includes those under-trial prisoners who by social status, education or habit of life have been accustomed to a superior mode of living and will correspond to A and B-Class of convicted prisoners. Ordinary class will include all others and will correspond to C-Class.

Superior class prisoners are entitled to books and newspapers, a 21-inch television, a table and a chair, a mattress, personal bedding and clothing and food. The prisoners have to pay for all this themselves. The government is only obligated to provide them security in a high-security ward where they will be kept away from other prisoners.

Rooms are supplied with a cot, one chair, one teapot, one lantern if there is no electric light, and necessary washing and sanitary appliances. A-Class prisoners may supplement the furniture by other articles within reasonable limit at their own cost, at the discretion of the superintendent.

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