Islamabad, Pakistan – Jailed former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party says it is concerned about his safety and security in prison, where “his life is under threat”.
Khan, 70, was arrested and sent to jail for three years following his conviction in a corruption case by a court in capital Islamabad on Saturday.
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Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice chairman of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, told Al Jazeera the former prime minister is not being allowed to meet his lawyers for the last two days.
He said the party leadership is “extremely concerned” about Khan’s wellbeing.
“Our priority is Khan’s safety and security. We have reasons to believe his life is under threat and I urge the country’s higher courts to take notice and we do hope that justice will prevail,” Qureshi, also a former foreign minister of Pakistan, told Al Jazeera.
Qureshi said the jail in Punjab province where Khan was imprisoned did not have adequate facilities that must be granted to him due to his stature as an ex-premier.
“Khan has not been given his rights as a prisoner. We are facing challenges in gaining access to him. We don’t know what kind of food is he being given, we don’t know how is he being treated there,” he said.
“The court order was to transfer him to Adiala jail but instead he was taken to Attock prison, and nobody has explained to us why that is so,” he said, referring to the two jails in Punjab province.
Attock is situated 100km (62 miles) north of the garrison town of Rawalpindi in Punjab. Pakistani authorities have not given any clarification for the change in jail so far.
Intazar Hussain Panjutha, one of Khan’s lawyers, told Al Jazeera they were seeking access to him to receive his authorisation to initiate legal proceedings challenging his imprisonment.
“We are just waiting to receive a power of attorney from him. But for that, we need to meet him. His rights to meet his lawyers have been denied and delayed by the jail authorities so far,” he told Al Jazeera.
“We are told he is being kept in solitary confinement in a tiny cell,” the lawyer added.
Khan was awarded the jail sentence for making false declarations to the Election Commission of Pakistan about the gifts he had received from foreign governments and officials when he was the prime minister.
The conviction means Khan would not be able to contest any election in the country for the next five years, ruling him out of running in the general elections expected in November.
Khan was the prime minister from 2018 and 2022 before he lost a confidence vote in parliament and was removed.
Since then, the PTI is facing a government crackdown, which worsened in May after nationwide protests over Khan’s brief arrest in another corruption case.
Thousands of PTI leaders and workers have been arrested for attacking government and military installations. Many of those arrested are set to face trials under draconian military laws.
Yet, Khan remains the most popular leader in the country for his call for change.
PTI leader Taimur Jhagra said despite Khan’s imprisonment, the morale of their party is high and anybody who hoped for the dismantling of the party should be disappointed.
“Khan has given his supporters hope and a dream, and whether or not you or I like it, the people definitely like it,” he told Al Jazeera.
Qureshi said his party’s sole demand is to hold general elections immediately.
“The only way to move forward is polls which is a democratic and sensible way to get the country out of its current political and economic crisis,” he told Al Jazeera.