News Analysis |
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N’s) senior leader Hanif Abbasi has been shifted from Rawalpindi’s Adiala to Attock jail on Saturday [Today]. The incarcerated outspoken leader was shifted on the directives of the DIG Rawalpindi region after his photograph with former PM Nawaz Sharif and others surfaced on media—where he was seen inside the room of Jail Adiala jail Superintendent before Nawaz’s release.
After the uproar over the presence of Abbasi outside his cell, Inspector General (IG) Prisons Punjab had ordered an inquiry into the matter and issued a notification. “ANF prisoner namely Hanif Abbasi was seen in the office of Superintendent of Central Jail, Rawalpindi, which caused adverse impression and the bad name for the Prisons Department and the Government of Punjab,” the notification read.
The ad hoc steps like transferring the prisoner won’t do anything, the government needs to introduce promised jail reforms to treat everyone in society equally.
The images of the jailed leader were circulated on the social media and the situation became embarrassing for the department. Resultantly, “the competent authority had constituted an inquiry committee comprising DIG Prisons Malik Shaukat Feroze and AIG Judicial Malik Safdar Nawaz to probe into the matter and find out how Abbasi was allowed to enter the Admin Block and an office of the jail superintendent.” Meanwhile, Abbasi who is serving a life term in the ephedrine quota case has been shifted to Attock Jail.
On July 22, Abbasi was sentenced for misusing 500kg of the controlled chemical ephedrine. The outspoken leader had obtained the drug in 2010 for his company, Gray Pharmaceutical, in order to sell it to narcotics smugglers. The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) had registered a case against PML-N’s stalwart and his accomplices in June 2012 under various sections of the CNS Act. Abbasi received the charge sheet in August 2013 and he along with other accused was indicted by the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) court in October 2014.
The case was dragged along for years by the court. However, it concluded rather hastily and abruptly in a controversial manner, when the high court and Supreme Court rejected his petition against the swift trial and result was announced only a couple of days before the July 25 general elections. Abbasi, who was contesting from NA-60, Rawalpindi on PML-N’s ticket was imprisoned and elections were resultantly postponed. The plight of poor inmates in Pakistani jails and mismanagement has been a matter of concern. However, rich and powerful have made the mockery of the legal system in the country.
Politicians, in particular, have enjoyed all the perks and facilities in Jails, while, poor have been languishing in hundreds of jails in the country. PM Imran Khan has touched on the topic in his speech after taking over as the PM. Observers assert that ad hoc steps like transferring the prisoner won’t do anything, the government needs to introduce promised jail reforms to treat everyone in society equally. The VIP culture present in Pakistan’s society needs to be dealt with an iron hand if this country aims to transform its fortunes going forward.
One must keep in mind the ‘VIP treatment’ given to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who was jailed on corruption charges. Will PTI ensure equal treatment for all in jails is yet to be seen.