Pakistan is a unique country on the world globe where rule of law is not followed, and with the passage of time there is continuous deterioration in implementing the rules when it is applied to VIP and VVIP’s. Rules are amended at will to suit individual convenience. Go anywhere in any major city of Pakistan you witness fleets of vehicle with latest make and model being misused by the government functionaries their relatives friends children and party workers and no one is pushed about it. History is replete with such examples where VIP’s are getting special treatment by the jail authorities beyond their entitlement. It is so strange that whenever any VIP is under investigation or punished they immediately fall sick and with the help of doctors invariably manage to get shifted to hospital of their own choice for treatment. It is a treat to watch them the facilities they enjoy in hospitals, they get everything they want. The facilities outmatch 5 star hotels. As if this not enough when they appear in court they wave hands if they have brought some honor to the country and when they come out make victory sign. Normally in such circumstances people hide their faces to avoid embarrassment but in our politics it has become a matter of pride to be in jail whereas in the rest of the world it is called shame. There is no check on them whatsoever. It is on record that higher judiciary right from High Courts to Supreme Court notices have been taken against maneuvered shifting but the practice continues unabated. Latest example is surprise visit of Chief Justice of Pakistan on declared sub jail in Ziauddin Hospital room where former PPP leader Sharjeel Memon was under treatment three liquor bottles have been recovered as a result so called patient has been shifted to Jail. This is actual story of leaders who are lodged in Jails but soon manage to transfer them to hospitals through influence
But what surprises everyone is the grave violation of prison rules to see the protocol of VIP and VVIP who has been convicted and is lodged in different jails of Pakistan. Take the case of former President who spent 11 years in jail but enjoyed royal facilities. Lately we all have observed our former Prime Minister and his daughter currently undergoing sentences of 10 and 7 years respectively in Adiala Jail. Since Nawaz Sharif is also facing other two cases in the Accountability Court, therefore on each hearing he is taken to the court. It is a treat to watch former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s caravan when being taken from jail to Accountability court in a motorcade of latest model vehicles. The vehicles used for transportation are much more than the Prime Minister is using these days. Such type of protocol is just not understandable at all, it tantamount to making fun of rules a bad example of discrimination between various categories of prisoners. It is not only violation of rules but speaks volume of system that also needs to be reviewed because there must be a proper distinction between prisoner and gentleman. It needs immediate legislation and it can be made with simple majority. Since this issue involves VIP prisoners therefore there won’t be much opposition
Punjab government under Pakistan Prisons Rules 1978 had provided facilities of better class to Nawaz Sharif .The convict of better class could get his dress, bed, mattress, shoes, chair, 21 inch TV, radio, washroom, newspaper and other items on his expenses. Rules differ from place to place. For example in India If a prisoner who has been designated as First class Prison status he gets following facilities. A separate cell like room with attached toilet fitted with round the clock water facility, access to a separate newspaper meant for him only, having freedom to arrange for periodicals ,book as per his desire with no limit, freedom from visiting the dinning place, foods may be served at his/her cell, extra light for the sake of reading,supply of some indoor games like card/ludo /chess for the time pass,can stroll in front of cell yard in morning and evening, being in segregated space he can enjoy less congestion than other places like dormitory,placing gives him a sense of privacy and safety, may have good diet as per prescription of medical officer, have cot and pillow to sleep.
These are the facilities which a first class prisoner can enjoy. It is nothing but an adequate arrangement for a person of good upbringings and is in line with his previous status. There is lot of difference between the facilities of the two countries. The official facilities in fact are never practiced, what we see that dignitaries who by chance land in jails enjoy facilities of their own choice. It looks very ridiculous to watch dignitaries getting full protocol under the cover of security. Such lavish arrangements for poor country like Pakistan which is under heavy debt does not auger well, our all such measures should reflect austerity without compromising minimum security
What is more important is to send message to all that how high position may have been of the convict, in the eyes of law he shall be treated alike and as per laws of the prison of the province. Any official of jail found giving special concessions must be punished as per law so that it proves deterrent to others. To have proper check on VIP patients special board of doctors be appointed who should visit all such VIP patients. Let us make beginning to dispense with such high protocol to VIP prisoners, a prisoner is a prisoner and not a VIP.
The writer is a freelance journalist and defence Analyst.