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Rights Groups’ Request To Meet Arrested MNAs Ali Wazir, Mohsin Dawar Declined By Authorities

Police authorities in Haripur Central Prison have declined rights groups’ request for a meeting with detained MNAs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar.

Lahore’s Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights and 33 civil society organisations including AGHS Legal Aid, Aurat Foundation, Digital Rights Foundation and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan wrote to the superintendent of the Haripur Central Prison expressing concern over the conditions of those detained there. The groups also sought permission to visit the jail and meet the detainees, especially MNAs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar.

In a column published in Dawn, I.A Rehman mentioned the ‘prompt’ reply of the jail superintendent, who refused to allow the rights organisations to meet the jailed MNAs. In his reply, the superintendent said that Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar were charged in anti-state activities and were imprisoned under Rule 723(viii) and 723(xiii) of Pakistan Prisons Rules.

“Prisoners governed by these rules have to submit a list of their friends and relatives who they would want to meet,” the response said.

According to the superintendent, the prisoners had not mentioned the rights activists in the list and hence they were not allowed to meet the MNAs. The superintendent did apprise the rights groups ‘humane’ treatment the MNAs were receiving in prison.

Activists have been critical of the treatment meted out to political prisoners. Following the arrests of the MNAs, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto had urged National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to issue production orders for Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, but to no avail.

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Part of the reason could be the nature the ‘alleged crime’ perpetrated by the MNAs. The MNAs had been arrested after an alleged attack on an army checkpost in Khar Qamar, North Waziristan. Since then, both legislators have only be allowed to meet close friends and family.

On Wednesday, former senator Afrasiab Khattak tweeted that he along with a few others were allowed to meet both MNAs, but only after they stood in protest outside the prison for two hours.

Government’s lack of response to rights groups over its treatment of political prisoners has been condemned.

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