News Analysis |
Apparently, the Islamabad administration is mulling over moving Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Safdar to Sihala rest-house in Islamabad due to security concerns- a section of Pakistani media is reporting. Reports coming out of Adiala jail suggest that when Nawaz went out of his barrack for an early morning stroll, some prisoners started chanting slogans against him, resulting in a security issue for the convicted former PM.
After the incident, due to security concerns, according to these media sources, Nawaz was not allowed to visit the jail mosque for prayers. Speculations are rife that Nawaz along with his daughter may be relocated to Safwat Lodge, commonly referred to as Sihala Rest House, located on the premises of Sihala Police College. This location has been chosen due to better security arrangements there. In the past, most important politicians were kept in Sihala rest-house, but those were purely political detentions not related to criminal convictions.
Most in the media and civil society believe that authorities must ensure that every convict, despite of his political status is dealt with according to the law and no discrimination must be made while dealing with them.
Some reports suggest that a bomb disposal squad had visited the Sihala Rest House to clean up the premises of any possible bomb threat. Authorities want to ensure that the Sihala Rest House is cleaned up of any explosives, in case, if the decision is taken to move the father-daughter duo. In the past, many high profile figures including PPP chairman Asif Ali Zardari were also detained in the same rest house.
‘On July 06, Nawaz was sentenced to 10-years in prison, along with a fine of £8 million for owning assets beyond the known income. While his daughter Maryam was given seven years in prison along with a £2 million fine. She was found guilty of being “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father”.
Sharif’s counsels have submitted the plea for suspension of their prison term in IHC. But the court has directed the NAB to present their arguments on the matter after the July 25 elections to decide on the matter.
Is Islamabad administration making a case to shift Nawaz & Maryam to Sihala rest-house?
Analysts believe that a well-orchestrated plan is underway to create a pretext for Nawaz and his daughter Maryam to be shifted to Sihala rest house due to ‘security concerns’. If this happens, it is set to ease pressure on PML-N’s Quaid who was arrested on July 13 after his return to Pakistan.
Sihala rest-house is famous for housing political prisoners. ZA Bhutto kept his political opponents in Sihala rest-house; Bangladesh’s first premier, Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman being one of them. Several other famous political figures of Pakistan have also spent time as ‘detainees’ in this rest-house. Shifting Nawaz Sharif from Adiala jail to Sihala rest-house will be a major victory for Nawaz whose political career has already suffered a major setback after his conviction is anti-graft references by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Analysts have cited several reasons to prove this assertion.
Moving Nawaz from one of the ‘most secure’ and oldest prisons to a guest-house in the heart of Islamabad will raise a question mark on his status. His supporters among politicians, lawyer’s community and civil administration will label him a ‘political prisoner’ rather than a ‘convicted criminal’ citing the history of Sihala rest-house in Pakistani politics. A debate may be initiated on mainstream media which might create confusions among the masses as to his real status.
This location has been chosen due to better security arrangements there In the past, most important politicians were kept in Sihala rest-house, but those were purely political detentions not related to criminal convictions.
The latest ‘Dawn’ fiasco where it’s CEO failed to prove his assertions of Pakistani establishment being involved in politics in an interview to BBC, has casted doubts on the impartiality of media and has exposed the level of PML-N’s infiltration in media houses. Hence, this possibility cannot be ruled out. Analysts also believe that once shifted to Sihala rest-house, Nawaz and Maryam will be free to carry out their political activities unhindered.
This is due to the fact that in according to prison rules of Pakistan, Nawaz and Maryam can only meet family and supporters on Thursday and that too for a very limited time. There will be no such impediment in Sihala rest-house and Nawaz will be free to interact with his aides and media and hence will be able to continue his politics of turning his criminal convictions into a political issue.
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Most believe that Nawaz’s conviction in Avenfield reference is a major victory for democracy and rule of law in the country since it’s the very first time that a premier has been punished on corruption charges. It is set to deter other politicians, bureaucrats and public office holders from embezzlement of public funds.
Most in the media and civil society believe that authorities must ensure that every convict, despite of his political status is dealt with according to the law and no discrimination must be made while dealing with them. Media continues to remind the Pakistani public that ex-Isralei PM Ehud Olmert convicted for corruption charges was kept in jail like all other prisnors.