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Tapes reveal Sharif prison horrors

Islamabad, Sept. 23 (PTI): Ahead of next month’s general elections in Pakistan, exiled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family today released video tapes depicting the “appalling” conditions of a prison cell in which the former Premier was lodged after he was deposed in a military coup by Pervez Musharraf in October 1999.

Releasing the tapes, Sharif’s son Hasan Nawaz told the BBC in London in an interview that the tapes, which were secretly shot when Sharif was lodged in prison in Karachi immediately after his arrest, reflected the “true colours of the military government”.

He said contrary to assurances given by Musharraf that Sharif was well cared and provided adequate facilities, the deposed Prime Minister was kept in a cell with “appalling” conditions. “In some of the pictures the footage is shocking”, he said adding the video depicted the conditions under which Sharif was kept when there was national and international outcry about his safety immediately after his arrest.

Sharif was kept in such a cell even before he was formally charged of not allowing the plane in which Musharraf was travelling from Colombo to Karachi, his son alleged, adding “he was the Prime Minister at the time and it is absolute and complete personal vendetta of musharraf against sharif's family”.

The video, which was aired by the BBC today shows Sharif pensively gazing out his prison cell which had a small bed and chair and poorly kept attached toilet.

Hasan said the video pictures were taken by a camera secretly smuggled to Sharif’s prison cell during his confinement.

Asked why he released the pictures ahead of the polls, Hasan said he just got the tapes and he was not present in Pakistan when the coup took place.

“We have obtained the tapes through discreet sources. I am not going to name those sources. But these pictures should be shown to the people to know what happened to their elected Prime Minister”, he said.

Hasan also said it was not too late to release the tapes. “It is about right time now, when we are heading for the most controversial elections in Pakistan. When the people of Pakistan would see how their elected Prime Minister was treated, I think they have reasonable doubts that all the claims made by Musharraf and his team to hold free and fair elections”.

He said the footage would reveal to the people how political prisoners are still held in Pakistan. He said after seeing the video, people would realise Mushararf’s hollow claims of holding free and fair elections.”

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