Maryam visits Kot Lakhpat Jail, reflects on her and father’s difficult time in prison

Maryam, 50, on Sunday visited the Kot Lakhpat Jail, where she and Nawaz Sharif served prison terms in corruption cases

Lahore: Nawaz Sharif is a “kingmaker” today while his oppressors are “nowhere”, an emotional Maryam Nawaz, the first woman chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province, has said, as she visited the Kot Lakhpat Jail here and recalled hardships she and her father endured in prison.

Maryam, 50, on Sunday visited the Kot Lakhpat Jail, where she and Nawaz Sharif served prison terms in corruption cases, and broke Ramzan fast with the women prisoners. She sat with the women prisoners and presented samosas, pakoras, fruits and biryani to them.

She also got to see the prison cell where her father three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif languished in a Panama Papers corruption case before leaving the country for London in 2019 on medical grounds.

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“Emotional moment to see the cell of MNS (Mian Nawaz Sharif), where a three-time prime minister was kept. I was in the same jail but I was never allowed to visit him. Got to see it today. He is a kingmaker today while his oppressors are nowhere,” she said on X.

After spending four years in self-exile Sharif, 74, returned in October last year reportedly after striking a deal with a powerful military establishment.

He was set to become premier for a record the fourth time in last month’s general elections but his party failed to get enough seats in the National Assembly to form a government on its own. Independent candidates backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the maximum number of seats.

However, his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, who is considered a favourite of the military establishment, managed to form a coalition federal government with the help of five other parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party led by ex-foreign minister Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto.

Recalling her time in this jail, she said: “I was imprisoned in the death cell and faced a difficult time. My father was also imprisoned in the same jail but I was denied permission for meeting him. I used to meet my father once a week only.”

She said once she received a handwritten letter from her father which stated that he after being arrested was being taken to the National Accountability Bureau jail.

“Someone in the jail told me that your father is feeling unwell and is being taken to hospital. It was a time of great difficulty. I couldn’t talk with my cancer patient mother. I used to talk with my children for 20 minutes only. I was greatly worried about my 15-year-old daughter at that time as she also underwent a difficult time,” Maryam, considered the political heir of Nawaz Sharif, wrote.

During the visit, she announced three months of remission in the punishment of prisoners and released 155 prisoners across the province.

She said a video call facility will be provided in all the jails of Punjab very soon. She said that few persons would go to jail due to their faults and others owing to their circumstances.

“Even the innocent have to face punishments due to shortcomings in the justice system. We will definitely bring improvements in the jail system along with the provision of possible ease for the prisoners. We are aware of the difficulties of prisoners and we would bring improvements in their food and other essential needs,” she said.

She directed the jail authorities to adopt a respectable and dignified practice for arranging a meeting of the prisoners with their family members.

“We want to bring reforms in the jails so as to make every prisoner a useful citizen of the society. We would let the prisoners stand on their feet by imparting them with various skills in the jails,” she said.

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