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Govt to send PTI leaders, workers to ‘far-off jails’ first

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Sunday said that the government will first direct Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders and workers – who voluntarily presented themselves for arrests – to far-off jails before sending them to prisons in Lahore or Rawalpindi.

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, the minister said that between 100 to 150 people have thus far courted arrests as part of the PTI’s ‘Jail Bharo’ movement — a drive that seeks to mark a protest against the government’s policies and to put pressure on the ruling coalition to announce elections.

“Eighty per cent of the arrested ones are asking to be released,” said Sanaullah as he revealed that all participants of the PTI’s drive have been taken into custody for 30 days.

“You wished to go to jail, so you have been sent there,” he said mockingly, “we are having you visit jails so that you can acquaint yourselves with the conditions there”.

It may be noted that several petitions have been filed at the Lahore High Court (LHC), expressing fears that the arrested PTI leaders and workers may be falsely accused of involvement in unlawful activities to cause them “maximum harm”, adding that they have been transported to “some unknown place” to “torture” them.

Without referring to the matter that remains subjudice, Sanaullah said “we will first fill jails in far-off areas and afterward fill the jails of Lahore and Rawalpindi”.

“We hold the judiciary in utmost respect and regard,” he added as he stressed that “weakening” the judiciary would be synonymous with “increasing the difficulties of the country”.

However, the interior minister simultaneously stressed that “bench-fixing” allegations must be probed, hinting at a series of controversial audio leaks attributed to former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi.

Sanaullah urged the apex court to take suo motu notice over the alleged close ties that Elahi maintains with a Supreme Court judge.

Turning his attention towards former premier Imran Khan, he said that “he is a trouble-maker, and never once did something for the betterment of the country.

He noted that first Imran was bringing a sea of people to tread on the capital, then he said he was going to fill the jails, “but now the people know him for what he is”.

Sanaullah alleged that Imran was “spreading instability in the country” and called the ‘Jail Bharo’ movement a “big walk of shame”.