Thursday Nov 26, 2020
LAHORE: PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz on Thursday claimed that she was fed "rat-contaminated food" when she was incarcerated in the Punjab capital's Kot Lakhpat Jail.
In an informal conversation with journalists in Jati Umrah, Maryam Nawaz complained of the medication she was given in the prison, saying it was "not fit for use at all".
"I was forced to take fungus-infected medicines in prison," she claimed.
In startling claims earlier this month, Maryam had also alleged the installation of cameras in her jail cell.
Speaking of her grandmother, Begum Shamim Akhtar, who had passed away aged 89 over the weekend, the PML-N leader said she had spoken to her over video call two or three days before her death. "My grandmother's memory had become weak," she said.
"The last time I talked to my grandmother, she was asking if I had been released from jail; my grandmother thought I was still in prison," Maryam said, referring to last year when she was incarcerated in the Central Jail Lahore. Maryam was released from jail in November 2019.
"My grandparents loved Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif very much," she added, noting how Begum Shamim Akhtar had travelled to London to see the PML-N supremo despite her doctors advising against it.
Maryam Nawaz termed her grandmother's death "a great shock to the Sharif family", reiterating her earlier accusation that the PTI-led regime had not informed her of her grandmother's death at a time when she was in Peshawar to address a Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally and mobile signals were reportedly not working.
"My son, Junaid Safdar, had left Lahore for Peshawar to inform me," she said, about her grandmother's passing. There was no telephone contact at the PDM jalsa, Maryam added, saying she had told former prime minister Nawaz Sharif not to return to Pakistan.
The mother of PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, Begum Shamim Akhtar had developed a severe chest infection and was suffering from an advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease. A week before her death, her condition had deteriorated and she was unable to regain her health due to old age.
The PML-N VP was informed of the death "two hours late due to suspension of phone services", she had revealed on Twitter after she had apologised and abruptly left the PDM jalsa. "My father and family kept trying to contact me but were unable to do so," she had said, accusing the PTI-led government for being inconsiderate and inhumane.
Maryam Nawaz, in her conversation with the journalists today, also spoke of her concerns regarding Pakistan's future. Responding to a reporter's question as to whether the country was moving in a "worrying trajectory" given the current circumstances, the PML-N leader said she had the same fears.
"With the state the country is in right now, the government has to go," she said. "My analysis is that the situation is very bad and the current government can no longer function."
"A gas crisis is on the horizon and electricity bills are already worth Rs100,000 and over," she underlined. "Today, the government is talking about Israel [but] it has lost the case of Kashmir."
"Voices from within arise when they [the government] supersede others," she said.
With regard to her father and uncle, she said Shahbaz Sharif was in prison due to his loyalty to Nawaz Sharif. "The same is the case with Hamza Shahbaz," she added.
Reacting to Maryam Nawaz's comments, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar, denied her claims, saying it was a "matter of record that this woman did not eat jail food for a single day".
"This woman's food always came [prepared] from home," Akbar said. "So either the rat belonged to the family or they are lying according to the 'family tradition'.
"By the way, these rats seem to be quite 'Sharif' [innocent] that they leave food behind," the PM's adviser said, in a jibe at the family's name.