Pakistan's ex-PM Imran Khan held in small and dirty prison cell, morale high: Lawyer - GulfToday

Pakistan's ex-PM Imran Khan held in small and dirty prison cell, morale high: Lawyer


Police officers stand guard on the watch towers of the Attock jail, where Imran Khan (insect) in-prison after his conviction on Sunday. AP

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan was in good spirits despite being held in a small, dirty prison cell, one of his lawyer's said on Monday after being given access to the former cricket star in jail as he prepares to appeal against his graft conviction.

Imran Khan, 70, has been at the heart of political turmoil since he was ousted as prime minister in a vote of no confidence last year, raising concern about stability in the nuclear-armed country as it grapples with an economic crisis.

Police took Imran Khan from his home in the city of Lahore on Saturday and transferred him to a jail in Attock district, near the capital Islamabad, where a court convicted him of graft charges arising from the unlawful sale of state gifts and sentenced him to three years in prison.

There were small, scattered protests — including outside Lahore High Court, where a few dozen people gathered — but Imran Khan's street power has drastically diminished since authorities cracked down three months ago and rounded up thousands of his supporters.

PTIsupporters-August Lawyers in support of Imran Khan denounce his arrest during a protest outside the Lahore High Court. AFP

"I met Imran Khan who told me that 'they've put me in a C-class'," Naeem Panjutha, the lawyer, referring to conditions in the jail where he said he spent just under two hours with Imran Khan preparing paperwork for filing his appeal. "It is a small room which has got an open washroom where he said there were flies in the daytime and insects in the night."

NaeemHaider-Panjutha Naeem Haider Panjutha (C) arrives for a media briefing in Islamabad. AFP

Imran Khan's legal team was also appealing to authorities to secure him better conditions in jail, Panjutha told reporters in Islamabad earlier.

Another lawyer, Raoof Hasan, also met Imran on Monday at a century-old jail on the outskirts of historical Attock city, around 60 kilometres west of the capital, to obtain power of attorney so his team could press ahead with a series of legal challenges.

"He is being held in deplorable conditions not fit for any human, but he is in good spirits," Imran Khan's spokesman Hasan told AFP. "He said to 'tell the people that I will not compromise on my principles'."

Political prisoners are entitled to better "B-class" facilities, including access to television, newspapers and books.

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A government spokesperson and the prison authorities did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the conditions in which Imran Khan is being held.

The graft conviction, which Imran Khan rejects as politically motivated, likely means he will be disqualified from running in a general election due by November.


Imran Khan's arrest was the latest in a series of blows that have weakened his political standing after he fell out with the powerful military and his party splintered.

Ever since his ouster, Imran Khan has been campaigning for a snap election and organising protests, which led to significant violence on May 9, raising tension with the military.

Imran Khan accuses the military and his political opponents of plotting against him to block him from the election. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history, denies that.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is expected to call this week for the dissolution of parliament paving the way for a general election by November.

The political crisis has played out alongside an economic one.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund's board approved a $3 billion bailout for Pakistan to help it tackle an acute balance of payments crisis and dire shortage of central bank reserves.

Reuters/ AFP


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