Pakistan is writing a letter to the US, again, seeking the repatriation of Pakistani neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui, incarcerated in the US.
A New York-based court had found Aafia guilty of attempted murder of US military personnel in Afghanistan. She is currently serving 86-year jail sentence.
“We will adopt all legal and appropriate measures for the release of Dr Aafia,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
It will be the second time that the ministry of interior through, the foreign ministry of Pakistan, will write to Washington for Aafia’s repatriation. On September 2010, Islamabad had written to the US attorney-general, requesting that the Pakistani neuroscientist be repatriated to her homeland.
Dr Aafia’s sister, Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, wrote a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari titled “Aafia’s upcoming appeal process, the role of your government, and broken promises” on February 10, 2012. She wrote the same day a US Court was hearing an appeal in her sister’s case. She expressed concerns over the attorneys pleading the case. After more than a year, a US court of appeals for the second circuit heard an appeal of Aafia’s case in New York last month.
Interior ministry officials dealing with the case told The Express Tribune that Aafia could be deported to her home country under the UN convention for exchange/repatriation of prisoners on humanitarian grounds. But unfortunately, Pakistan is yet to sign this convention, they added.
The letter might also be written on grounds relating to the investigation report based on the International Justice Network, which revealed that a senior security official kidnapped Aafia from Karachi and handed her over to the CIA, Dr Fowzia told The Express Tribune. But even she termed this appeal a futile effort.
Pakistani Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman is also making efforts for the repatriation of Aafia. Last month, she met Tina Foster, Aafia’s counsel in the US, and discussed the case, any ease in sentence and her return to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Aafia’s family wrote a letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon requesting his help in securing her return to Pakistan. “It (Aafia’s repatriation) is a singularly comprehensive yet simple and unambiguous act. It is one that can lead to new respect for and confidence in the United Nations as an instrument of international peace and cooperation,” the letter stated.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2012.