In Peshawar prison, women inmates share food and prayers in Ramadan

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38 female inmates live in the huge hall of the women’s section in the old prison building, alongside eight young children who could not be separated from their mothers. In this photo, women in full face veils wait for Iftar. May 25, 2019 ( AN photo by Saba Rehman)
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An inmate diagnosed with AIDS consults with a doctor at the women’s section of Peshawar’s central prison. May 25, 2019 ( AN photo by Saba Rehman)
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Women inmates at Peshawar’s central jail sit around a traditional Dastarkhwan and share food during Iftar. The spread includes traditional fritters, pasta and dates. May 25, 2019 ( AN photo by Saba Rehman)
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Inmates at the women’s section of Peshawar’s main jail recite the Quran sitting side by side. May 25, 2019 ( AN photo by Saba Rehman)
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The tasbih, or traditional prayer beads, are used by Muslims for the repetitive recitation of different prayers and supplications. In this photo, an inmate at the women’s section of Peshawar’s central jail sits on the floor with her prayer beads before Iftar. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Updated 27 May 2019

In Peshawar prison, women inmates share food and prayers in Ramadan

PESHAWAR: Located next to iconic landmarks like the Provincial Assembly and the High Court, the central prison in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar is a handsome old building bursting at the seams with over 1,800 prisoners. 38 of them are women.

The existing building was established in 1854 with an occupancy limit of 425 prisoners, but with the influx of hundreds of inmates, a new block is now under construction and slated for completion by the end of the year. 

Inside the prison kitchens, convicted prisoners make round traditional bread and prepare Iftar meals for other inmates. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

The prison department provides basic facilities and food to inmates still under trial and to those convicted in the male, female and juvenile sections. During the month of Ramadan, these facilities extend to include special meals at Iftar, like sweet rice, chicken and potatoes served with a side of milky hot tea. 

A female inmate cooks chicken gravy for herself and other prisoners in the prison barracks before Iftar. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

“We get good food in this month (of Ramadan) and are free to offer our prayers and recite the Holy Quran at any time,” said Shahida, an inmate who has been in the prison for five years but was convicted for murder late last year. 

Acting superintendent of the prison releases prisoners after the court orders arrive. The inmates receive the good news right before Iftar time in Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

The large hall of the women’s section has a scattering of beds, but most inmates sleep, eat and pray on quilts spread out on the floor. 

A police officer stands guard outside the entrance to the women’s section in Peshawar’s central jail. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

"Some of the women get sick often,” said Iffat Shaheen, assistant superintendent of the women’s prison section. “Right now we have two pregnancy cases and one case of HIV AIDS, so we try to give them good meals. A few prisoners have small children inside prison with them and they get milk as well.” 

A female inmate gives English lessons to some of the children at the Peshawar central prison. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

Another female inmate convicted for possession of drugs has been in prison for seven months. She declined to be identified but said they had a lot of free time in Ramadan that could be put to good use. 

Women in Peshawar’s central prison spend their days reading the Quran and reciting prayer beads during the month of Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

“This is a helpful time for us to learn skills like handicrafts and sewing,” she said. “When we leave prison, perhaps these things will pave the way for a good, halal living.” 

A woman inmate at Peshawar’s central jail has decorated her hands with henna in anticipation of the holy festival of Eid, which will mark the end of Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Rooh Afza, a popular indigenous drink made from herbs and flowers, is served around Peshawar’s central prison by the bucketfuls before Iftar. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Weekly menu written out for prisoners at Peshawar’s central jail in Urdu. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)


PPP, PML-N to challenge ‘anti-people policies’ of government

Updated 16 June 2019

PPP, PML-N to challenge ‘anti-people policies’ of government

  • Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto hold an important political meeting in Lahore
  • Analysts say their proposed campaign against government can put PTI in difficult situation

LAHORE: Leaders of Pakistan’s two largest opposition parties held a meeting here on Sunday to devise a joint strategy against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government and run a coordinated campaign against its “anti-people policies.”
The gathering was organized by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Sharif who invited Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to jointly review the country’s prevailing political situation.
Together the two young politicians agreed to revive the May 2006 Charter of Democracy, signed by their parents in London, to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Pakistan and challenge the incumbent administration.
“The two parties discussed the current situation of the country and decided to work together to get rid of the anti-people policies [of the PTI government]. In the first phase, a joint strategy will be evolved which will help the two factions work together in parliament. The leaders of the parties will also meet to formulate a strategy to work outside the parliament,” PPP Punjab Secretary General Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, who was present at the meeting, told Arab News.
A senior PML-N politician thought the meeting would prove beneficial for Pakistan’s future politics since the two parties were operating under a young leadership.
“The two young leaders have become successful in convincing their parties regarding their approach and style of politics. Their parents may have a history of friendship and enmity, but these two have no bad blood between them. They share the same woes and want to work together to take the country forward,” Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, another participant of the meeting, said.
Maryam Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto also discussed the fresh wave of the arrests of opposition leaders and thought it was to terrify the opponents of the government.
The PPP chairman said in a media talk after the meeting that the opposition would not be deterred by such political pressure. He also pointed out that no single party could take the country out of the present political and economic situation, adding it would require a collaborative effort.
The two leaders decided they would not let the PTI government pass the national budget, saying it was making life difficult for the people of Pakistan. They also agreed to involve other parliamentary forces to achieve that objective.
The PPP chairman and PML-N vice president demanded the administration to withdraw corruption references filed against their family members and insisted the National Assembly speaker issue production orders of all jailed members of parliament.
While some of the government ministers ridiculed the meeting, independent analysts thought it could create problems for the PTI administration.
“The PTI has pushed the main leaders of the PPP and PML-N against the wall. The proposed joint movement of these opposition faction can put the ruling party in hot water,” Arif Nizami, a senior analyst, told Arab News.