Pakistan invests in modern prison
Troubled country wants to stop recurring Taliban-led jailbreaks
ISLAMABAD – A new prison in northern Pakistan will be designed to resist Taliban jailbreaks more effectively than the country’s colonial-era jails, officials said.
The high-security facility will be in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where militants linked with al-Qaida have staged two jailbreaks in two years, an official said Friday.
It will have bomb-proof walls, and improved telecommunications and surveillance equipment, said Shiraz Paracha, spokesman for the chief minister.
“It is going to be a prison comparable with any modern jail anywhere in the world,” Paracha said.
Most jails in Pakistan were built by the British during colonial times in the 19th or early 20th century to hold political dissidents.
The dated infrastructure has proven an inadequate match for modern, determined militants.
The Pakistani Taliban, linked to al-Qaida, freed more than three dozen associates when they blew holes in the wall and stormed a prison in Dera Ismail Khan district of the province in July.
In 2012, the militants broke several Taliban fighters out of another prison in Bannu district.
Adnan Rashid, a Taliban leader on death row for masterminding an attempt on the life of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2003, was among the militants broken out of Bannu, and went on to orchestrate the second jailbreak.
“We don’t want such incidents to be repeated,” Paracha said. “The jail we plan will be too good for militants to overrun.”
Apart from the reinforced perimeter walls, innovations will include cameras to monitor the surrounding area and possibly remote-controlled doors within the facility.
The prison will also be in a more isolated location to improve visibility of the surroundings, unlike the current ones, which are often amid residences and businesses, and easier to approach undetected.
Al-Qaida has reportedly set up a cell dedicated to springing members of affiliated groups from Pakistani prisons, intelligence agencies have warned.
Around 4,000 members of various militant organizations are in detention in the country.