Army officers could supervise jails
By Anjum Gill
LAHORE: Punjab Home Secretary Hassan Waseem Afzal has said that the Punjab government will either get army personnel to supervise high security prisons or train existing jail staff for the job.
Mr Afzal, talking to Daily Times on Wednesday, said, “We might get army personnel to train our jail staff to supervise the high security prisons.
The Punjab chief minister and I will take a decision on the issue. I will file a summary in three months time and the chief minister will finalise it.” “High security prisons are not really meant for Al Qaeda suspects. These are meant for high profile criminals convicted of heinous crimes and sectarian violence. The Punjab government has approved a Rs 225 million project that will lead to separate barracks and courts for sectarian terrorists in jails.
The idea is to have a day to day hearing of the high profile prisoner cases that would reach their logical end within three months,” he said.
Sources said that around 270 high profile sectarian prisoners were being held in 13 jails in Punjab most of them activists of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Muhammad. Mr Afzal said that the ‘high security plan’ had been forwarded to the Planning and Development Department for final approval.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) would fund the project through its ‘Access to Justice’ project with a budget of $350 million.
Four new barracks with a capacity of 75 prisoners each and eight courtrooms would be built in jails in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan. Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi presided over a department meeting in early July and directed officials to complete the project within six months.
Sources revealed that the Home Department was also considering an old project for two more jails to resolve the problem of overcrowding.
A senior Home Department official said the government would run a string of security projects to speed up prisoners’ trials. The Punjab government’s decision to go ahead with the project comes after a recent incident in Multan jail, where 58 activists of the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi went on hunger strike to protest human rights violations.