Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Pakistan’s disgraced former premier Nawaz Sharif, who was imprisoned with her father, has rejected an offer for better facilities in jail.
Sharif, 68, and Maryam, 44, were taken into custody in the Avenfield corruption case, shortly after their arrival at Lahore airport from London last night.
They were flown to Islamabad on a special aircraft and then were taken to the Adiala Jail in separate armoured personnel carriers escorted by police convoys. Coming from a rich family, Maryam is entitled to a ‘B-Class’ jail, which lists facilities like a mattress, table and chair, ceiling fan, 21-inch TV and a newspaper, all at personal cost.
However, she refused and her handwritten and signed letter is widely circulated on media. It reads, “I was offered better class facilities by the superintendent of the jail, as per the rules, that I refused of my own will. This is purely my own decision, taken without any pressure from anyone.”
However, her father and her husband Muhammad Safdar applied and got B-Class facilities, according to jail officials. Sharif is entitled to ‘A-Class’, being a former prime minister. Safdar is entitled for B-Class as a former army officer and parliamentarian.
The incarcerated Sharifs also met their family members for the first time last night. The visitors included Sharif’s aged mother, Shamim Akhtar, his brother Shahbaz, Maryam’s daughter Meharun Nisa and Shahbaz’s son Hamza Shahbaz. The meeting was arranged in the room of the jail superintendent’s room and continued for over two hours. Officials said the meeting was organised after the government give special permission.
Jail authorities have also fixed Thursday as the day for the Sharifs’ family to meet them. The normal day to meet prisoners is Friday. So far no party leader or worker visited them except legal team members to consult and get signatures on the papers to file appeal in the Islamabad High Court which are expected to be filed on Monday.
As Sharfis settled in prison, so far no unusual political activity or unrest has been spotted except the rallies arranged on the day of their arrival on July 13. However, Shahbaz said yesterday that all “legal and political” means will be used to get Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law out of the jail.
Analysts see a long legal and political battle ahead and a lot will depend on the outcome of the election on July 25. A poor performance may force Shahbaz, who is president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, to reject the result. He also said that his party will not accept results if the elections are rigged. Both Sharif and Maryam have been sentenced by an accountability court to 10 and 7 years in prison, respectively.
Sharif was disqualified as prime minister by the Supreme Court last year in the Panama Papers case. Sharif has been one of the country’s leading politicians for most of the past 30 years. He remains popular, especially in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous and electorally significant province.