KARACHI   -  Sindh Minister for Prisons on Friday said that news prisons are under construction in the province that would help improve the capacity of the prisons for 5,000 more inmates.

“These prisons are being constructed in Hyderabad, Benazirabad and Thatta while new barracks are being established at Malir prison in Karachi to accommodate 1,000 more prisoners,” he said while responding to questions posted from lawmakers during question and answer session of the provincial assembly.

The house proceedings that started an hour delay from scheduled timings were chaired by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.

The minister admitted that the prisons are overcrowded and said that Karachi Central Prisons has a capacity of 2,400 inmates but the current inmates exceed 4,500. “Malir prison has 3,449 inmates more than the capacity,” he said adding that Karachi needs prison in every district.

He also admitted that a prison for highly sensitive inmates is facing delays due to non-sanctioning of land for the purpose. “The home department had sent a summary for 300 acres land but the board of revenue is yet to allocate the land for it,” he said.  

On information of four women inmates in Larkana prison living with their children from the minister, Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said that a policy should be devised in which pregnant women should not be jailed in prisons. “We will support any government legislation in this regard,” he assured the treasury.

Former opposition leader and MQM-P leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan said that 28 cases were filed against him but the investigation officer does not come in any of the court proceedings. “The prosecution department is responsible for delay in cases and no efforts are being made to improve it,” he lamented.

He called for elimination of dual standards in prisons for inmates and said that some influential inmates are enjoying facilities while the others were beaten and forced to live in packed barracks. 

PTI Parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Shaikh said that the federal government was working on jail reforms and amendments in prisons acts so as to improve prison conditions across the country.

PPPP lawmaker Sharjeel Memon who is facing NAB cases and is brought in assembly session from the prisons, informed the house that although efforts were underway to made improvements in prisons but it needed further reforms. Further making revelations, Memon said that there were at least 50 inmates suffering from AIDS in Karachi prison and if thorough checkup is carried out then it could raise upto 500 inmates.

He also recommended the parliamentarians to visit prisons and also said that he would write letter to the top apex court judge for visiting the prisons.

Moreover, the Minister for Transport Awais Qadir Shah while talking on point of order said that the opposition leader visited the mass transit authority without prior notice of the authorities and scolded the staff.

“As per norms, the officials are not authorized to inform the opposition leader regarding the affairs,” he said.

The opposition leader said that he informed the secretary prior to the visit and all of the mass transit transport department projects including yellow, green and blue lines projects are facing delays. “We cannot sit silent and allow authorities to loot the country as it happened in past years,” he said.

Meanwhile, a privilege motion of PTI lawmakers Seema Zia and Adeeba Hasan pertaining to inappropriate attitude from NICVD staff during visit to the health facility was also tabled in the house but was later withdrawn after the health minister Azra Fazl Pechuhu assured the lawmakers of furnishing report pertaining to the incident in the house in next session.

Two resolutions were also passed from the provincial assembly on Friday with one authorisation from the provincial assembly to the Parliament to regulate the Ruet-e-Hilal arrangements aimed at maintaining unanimity on the moon sighting and other affairs under its ambit.

It says that since the law falls under the provincial legislative authority field and since Parliament has no power to enact it unless one or more assemblies pass resolution to authorize the parliament to enact such law under article 144 of the constitution. The resolution was presented by the Minister for Works and Services.

Another resolution was unanimously adopted by the house that eulogizes the services of Poet of the East Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal, whose birthday was celebrated on November 9. An adjournment motion from MQM-P lawmaker Muhammad Hussain pertaining to law and order situation was taken up and later delayed for discussion on coming Wednesday.  

The house was later adjourned for Monday afternoon.