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Suo motu capabilities designed for tackling public matters: PM Shehbaz

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif urges the judiciary to address prisoner welfare and demands better healthcare, sanitation, and vocational training for inmates, while stressing the need to expedite releases for those who have completed their sentences.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks to media persons outside Central Jail Kot Lakhpat in Lahore on April 22, 2023. — PID

LAHORE: Following a recent move to limit the powers of Pakistan’s Chief Justice, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke on Saturday about the intended purpose of suo motu powers for addressing public interest issues.

While visiting Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail to distribute Eid gifts to prisoners, PM Shehbaz questioned how often suo motu notices were employed for the betterment and justice of inmates. He shared his own experience of observing prisoners who remained in jail after serving their sentences due to financial constraints and lack of resources.

Shehbaz emphasized that there are thousands of prisoners who could be released immediately and called on the higher judiciary to take notice and alleviate the suffering of these individuals. He asserted that through collective action and setting aside personal interests, the nation can tackle its prevailing challenges.

In response to the current conditions faced by prisoners, the Prime Minister instructed Punjab officials to develop plans for specialized hospitals within prisons to provide medical treatment and quality sanitation services. He tasked the Punjab Chief Secretary with creating a proposal for a dedicated jail hospital within a week, with the potential to expand the project nationwide if successful.

Acknowledging that prisoners are incarcerated for committing crimes, Shehbaz argued that denying them access to medical care and proper sanitation constitutes a grave injustice. He shared his discussions with the Punjab Chief Secretary, IG prisons, and jail superintendent regarding the issues faced by inmates, particularly highlighting the poor state of prison toilets and the need for improved sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.

Shehbaz also revealed that nearly 8,000 prisoners are currently housed in two Lahore jails, with sick inmates waiting months for necessary medical tests and experiencing worsening health conditions as a result. He urged the activation of available basic health equipment in prisons and demanded a streamlined, transparent treatment process.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister directed relevant authorities to offer vocational training to prisoners, enabling them to become productive citizens and earn a living upon release. He emphasized the importance of aiding those who remain in prison solely due to financial difficulties, even after completing their sentences.

Written by Aly Bukshi

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