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HomeWorldNot picture-perfect, row breaks out over Imran Khan's Rawalpindi prison cell

Not picture-perfect, row breaks out over Imran Khan’s Rawalpindi prison cell

Islamabad, June 7: A fresh political slugfest has begun in Pakistan after the government released photographs of the cell provided to the country’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan in Adiala jail in order to refute the leader’s claim that he has been put in a ‘death cell’ and solitary confinement while serving the ongoing sentence.

The federal government submitted pictures of the facilities provided to Imran Khan in the Rawalpindi jail during a hearing of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Amendment. They showed that Khan’s room has a cooler, an LED television, a bed and a study table. Several other photographs of Khan’s dedicated kitchen, a corridor to walk and two exercise machines were also submitted. During earlier court proceedings, which he attended via a video link, the former PM had stated that he had been put in solitary confinement. In a written interview with journalist Mehdi Hasan, Khan also stated that he was put in a death cell.

“The man who has fought for the well-being of the whole nation is being kept in such miserable conditions. Imran Khan has lived all his life with a royal status and has been blessed with everything. Yet, he is forced to spend his time in such despicable conditions in jail. He is suffering for us, the people of Pakistan,” said Shandana Gulzar, a senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. “Pictures of Imran Khan’s room show that the distance between one wall to the other is only about 10 steps. This is a man who has given his everything to Pakistan. From Shaukat Khanum Hospital, universities, and working to make the country a welfare state for the poor. Today, he is kept in a 4×6-sized jail cell. It pains me to think that such a great leader would be treated like this,” said another PTI supporter, Rukhsana.

On the other hand, leaders from the ruling government have slammed Imran Khan for making a “false claim” about his solitary confinement and going to the extent of calling it a “death cell”. “Imran Khan is a liar. He keeps trying to show himself as the victim and tries to get attention from his supporters in and outside Pakistan. Imran Khan has been given the best facilities in jail.

He is enjoying his time and has not even come close to being treated as a convicted prisoner,” claimed Talal Chaudhry, senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N). Spokesperson for the Punjab government, Azma Bokhari claimed that at least seven prison cells were vacated to provide space for a corridor and Khan’s exercise machines in Adiala Jail. “You see the pictures and tell me if this is what solitary confinement looks like. Imran Khan is enjoying all facilities in jail.

He has a dedicated kitchen, a cleaner, a servant, he eats desi food including chicken and meat every day. He has even been given a corridor to walk in and a separate room to exercise as well. Imran Khan is in jail but the facilities he has are equivalent to a four-star hotel or even more than that,” claimed Bokhari. PTI has demanded that the Supreme Court should order an inspection of the jail cell to verify the government’s claims.

Meanwhile, political analysts and experts say that the government’s decision to submit jail cell pictures in the court and later leak them to the media and the public has only helped Imran Khan increase his already towering popularity. “Releasing jail cell pictures was an attempt to tarnish Imran Khan’s credibility. However, it turned out to be counter-productive for the government,” said senior political analyst Kashif Abbasi.

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