Pakistan reacts to Aafia's sentence, demands repatriation

Published: September 24, 2010

A protestor returns a teargas shell towards police during an anti-US protest in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

A protestor returns a teargas shell towards police during an anti-US protest in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP Activists from Jamat-e-Islami shout anti-US slogans to protest against the sentence handed down to Dr Aafia. PHOTO: AFP

The Foreign Office said on Friday it was “disappointed and saddened” by a US court’s decision to sentence Dr Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in jail, and would work to bring her home.

The New York court found Aafia Siddiqui guilty of the attempted murder of US officers in Afghanistan in a case that sparked outrage in Pakistan.

“We are disappointed and saddened by the sentence but the government has not given up,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told AFP, hours after Siddiqui’s family vowed to launch a “movement” to get her released from jail.

The tough jail term sparked immediate outrage in Siddiqui’s hometown of Karachi and in Lahore, where hundreds of activists demonstrated, chanting anti-US slogans.

“We are continuing efforts to get Aafia Siddiqui repatriated to Pakistan,” the foreign ministry spokesman said.

The government has come under pressure at home, particularly among right-wing groups, as well as from Siddiqui’s family for failing to get her released.

Asked under what circumstances Siddiqui could return to Pakistan, Abdul Basit said US President Barack Obama could pardon her, or an agreement could be reached for her to serve at least part of her sentence in Pakistan.

Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government will surely bring back Dr Aafia Siddiqui but it needs time to do so.

In a statement, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani said the government took every possible step for the safe release of Dr Aafia. Haqqani added that Pakistan will continue efforts for the safe return of Aafia.

PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif has expressed his grief over the sentence given to Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

In a special message to Dr Aafia’s family, Nawaz said he had raised the issue of Dr Aafia’s release in his meeting with US special envoy Richard Holbrooke. The PML-N chief said he would make all efforts to secure Dr Aafia’s release. He also added that the entire nation was praying for her safe return.

JUI-F Chief Molana Fazalur Rehman has cancelled his visit to America as a protest against the decision regarding Doctor Aafia.

Talking to media outside the parliament house he said that the punishment of Doctor Aafia has added to the list of American crimes.

Protests against Aafia’s sentence

Fauzia Siddiqui told reporters in Karachi that all of Pakistan would agitate to get her sister freed. “I was alone… when I started the campaign to release my sister, but from now on it will be the Aafia movement as the whole nation is with me,” she said.

Around 200 activists from Jamaat-e-Islami and various right-wing groups gathered outside Siddiqui’s Karachi home overnight as police went on full alert to guard against possible violence. The crowd chanted slogans including “Down with America” and “Allahu akbar” (God is greater) soon after news of the sentence filtered through.

“We have declared a high alert and deployed maximum police force in the city to stop possible violence and ensure that no private property is damaged during future protests,” the city’s police chief Fayyaz Leghari told AFP.

In Lahore, around 200 activists from Islami Jamiat Talaba, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, burnt tyres and shouted anti-US slogans after the sentencing.

US human rights activists condemn sentence

A New York-based human rights group has condemned as “unfair and unjust” the sentence handed down to Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistan neuroscientist, saying she had never caused harm to anyone.

“This sentence is not only unjust because of its harshness to Dr Siddiqui – but also because of its impact on her two small children in Pakistan who may never see their mother again,” the International Justice Network, attorneys for Siddiqui’s family, said in a statement after Thursday’s tough sentence imposed US District Judge Richard Berman.

“But the greatest injustice of all is that those who are responsible for the kidnapping, disappearance, and abuse of Dr Siddiqui and her children without cause have yet to answer for their actions.

“While today’s sentence concludes a shameful chapter in American history, it is only a matter of time before the truth about what has been done to Dr Siddiqui, her family, and the thousands of other innocents who have been disappeared is revealed. Importantly, despite today’s sentence and all the injustices which she has endured, Dr Siddiqui has consistently made clear that she does not support any acts of violence being taken in her name,” the statement added.

“The International Justice Network stands in solidarity with the international community in condemning this unfair and unjust result in Dr. Siddiqui’s case.”

“This case is not over. This is just the beginning,” Tina Foster of the International Justice Network told reporters, adding that the real importance of the case, her group believes, is that it draws attention to thousands of disappearances in Pakistan.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Sam
    Sep 24, 2010 - 2:49PM

    Fauzia Siddiqui told reporters in Karachi that all of Pakistan would agitate to get her sister freed. “I was alone… when I started the campaign to release my sister, but from now on it will be the Aafia movement as the whole nation is with me,” she said.
    Such presumptuous statement to make. I don’t recall being drafted into any such movement.Recommend

  • SK
    Sep 24, 2010 - 2:56PM

    My dear govt,
    Most recent is the case of China and Japan at each other’s throats just for one fishing captain and China prevailed only because it showed it had respect for even a fishing captain, it stopped export of critical items to japan and next day Japan bowed down.
    Take a clue and dare to stop Nato & US stuff’s transportation for a week from Karachi to Quetta as a protesting gesture, I am sure that will melt US’ hearts.
    You keep fearing retribution and you will get NOTHING- you retaliate, I promise you over my life that Pakistani people will be on your back but you have to start trusting Allah for once instead of America or any other nation.

    My dear fellow Pakistanis,
    Someoe sketches a cartoon of our beloved prophets, you burn vehicles, tyres, stone buildings, kill each other, they laugh their tonssils out, they detain Dr. Afia, you stop traffic, you create nuisance in your own and your fellow citizens’ lives, they laugh even more, now they know how to make you destroy your own lives, your city/country and they achieve that easily. Please learn and get some lessons (of patience, of maturity and of wisdom) from Quran, its your right to protest but protest by pushing govt to take concrete steps instead of destroying your own country for Allah’s sake whose name you don’t stop taking all day long.Recommend

  • Alia
    Sep 24, 2010 - 3:34PM

    How silly to to burn your own country although there is no second opinion in Pakistan that justice has been denied to Aafia. The country is already in a traumatic conditions with clowns holding power, the people of Pakistan should avoid this kind of destruction. Your goal is right but the mode of action you have chosen is absolutely not!Recommend

  • Schazad
    Sep 24, 2010 - 4:59PM

    She has been found criminal and we want a criminal to repatriate. For this we will burn our own house at a time when our home is already in shatters and devastated by back to back floods, bomb blasts, no economic activity, no jobs, schools being bombed, innocent people bombed, security officials bombed. Way to go PAKISTAN.Recommend

  • Sep 24, 2010 - 5:13PM

    Well done America!Recommend

  • Asiya
    Sep 24, 2010 - 5:42PM

    Ha true. neither am I praying for her safe return. Stop dragging the “whole nation” Dr Fauzia. we’re not interestedRecommend

  • Abbas
    Sep 24, 2010 - 5:55PM

    @All, well thats a good excuse of letting injustice prosper, i feel ashamed for those who lost there heart so much that they cannot corner the burden of her family even. Injustice was done to her and thats for sure. How can a girl like her swap a weapon from a US marine? there are prisoners in guntanamo still mistreated even no case has been proven on them. While we gave excuse to sit idle and enjoy the luxuries and chant slogans of peace? we have lost our conscious and trust me thats the only problem. Will you ask America to handover the people involved in killing any innocent during their ruthless drone attacks? No, reason are your comments of enjoying peace while other suffer.

    Aafia siddiqui lost her child of 4 months, what in the name of justice is that.I feel pity and ashamed for people supporting this. Either u people are insane or over impressed by this cosmetic judiciary system of America. If u cannot participate in freeing her atleast have a soft corner for her. She is our sister, caught by barbaric baboons who have no religion or morals at all.

    Shame on American judiciary. May Allah have mercy on her and support her children. Because its the biggest pain for her to live without them for ever. :(Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 24, 2010 - 6:13PM

    I completely agree with Alia, i sympathise with afia and family and feel no justice has been done but the irony of the situation in we Pakistanis dont have any clue on how to protest at all, we look like bunch of losers when we protest, there can be peaceful protest and try to register the point, why are you hurting own people and burning and stuff. ridiculous pakistan please grow up peopleRecommend

  • Sep 24, 2010 - 6:27PM

    Schazad, I am fully in agreement with your views. We burn our own assets. Burning or damaging public & private properties will not help in repatriation of Dr Aafia Siddiqui. Only through political dialogues it is possible. Recommend

  • ayman
    Sep 24, 2010 - 7:47PM

    its very sad to hear views of people like tanzeel and asiya .Stop being selfish and learn to live for others and excuse me WE ARE INTERESTEDRecommend

  • Jasmine
    Sep 24, 2010 - 8:48PM

    Did anyone even try to read the case, the evidence ? or is everyone just being led by whatever media / news / print they are reading? READ first ..Recommend

  • Maxime Maximilien
    Sep 24, 2010 - 9:01PM

    I have been following the news and I haven’t heard an instance of “burning or damaging public and private properties” on this specific issue. In order to show their anger, what protesters mostly did is burning the used tires or effigies of Obama and Musharraf. If protesters wish to peacefully assemble in front of the U.S. consulate and present a memo there, I don’t know what keeps our authorities from letting them doing this? They deliberately infuriate them and take the undeserving wrath in return. And I second Ayman, leaving out the handful of callous wannabes, we are very much interested in Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s issue.Recommend

  • KH
    Sep 24, 2010 - 9:06PM

    Tanzeel and Asiya are bit rude but not wrong on this issue but Schazad is also deploring Aafia as a criminal and even me too, who can never favor any aide of ban Al_Qaida or Taliban like Aafia but being compatriot to her I can second the opinions to bring her to justice in Pakistan, because it’s a question of our national prestige but unfortunately, Americans are well known about the Pro Jihadies bureaucratic trend in Pakistan, so, how they could let case of Aafia be solved in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Bangash
    Sep 24, 2010 - 9:23PM

    Afia Siddiqi is a convicted terrorist who was given a fair trial in US justice system and will now serve her sentence. Pakistanis should move on to real issues.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 24, 2010 - 9:53PM

    But, is she guilty of attacking those marines? I think so. I have enough respect for the American Judiciary to believe when it sentences some for virtually till the end of her life.

    American judicial system is one of the best in the world. We can safely assume she is guilty beyond doubt and hence punished.Recommend

  • Mohammad Jawed Iqbal
    Sep 24, 2010 - 10:04PM

    i hope she will be back pakistan. When thou hast taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). If Allah helps you none can overcome you if He forsakes you who is there after that, that can help you? In Allah then let believers put their trust.Recommend

  • Why am I not suprised?
    Sep 24, 2010 - 10:05PM

    Any one INTERESTED in taking up the cause of the women in Pakistani jails who don’t even have a clue why they were locked up?

    Re: http://tribune.com.pk/story/53277/help-for-women-prisoners/Recommend

  • Concerned Omega
    Sep 24, 2010 - 10:10PM

    Great now Pakistan wants to exonerate terrorists. Check out the mentality of these people. Don’t we have other things to do besides protesting (common) and screaming around even since we know, no one cares about us.

    Insanity at its Peak in Pakistan
    May Allah help us all.Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Sep 24, 2010 - 10:20PM

    People and politicians of Pakistan are getting united in getting Dr. Aafia Siddiqui released from US custody.

    If the sitting government will not support the cause, there is a possibility that people’s protests may force the President, Prime Minister and the Parliament to resign from their respective offices.

    It is up to the present government as how she takes up the matter of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui with the US government and brings Dr. Aafia Siddiqui back home.

    The case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has become the matter of survival of the present government. If PPP government will be able to bring her back, there is a possibility that people of Pakistan may give another chance to PPP government to serve the country, otherwise I doubt that PPP government will be able to continue any longer. Recommend

  • nina
    Sep 24, 2010 - 10:21PM

    This is just a detraction for the Pakistanis from focusing on the real issues at hand, e.g. govt corruption, inflation, flood victims, US drone attacks, US intereference in our political set up, etc. etc.
    I appeal to our Pakistani citizens please don’t waste your time on this issue.
    Recommend

  • Basit
    Sep 24, 2010 - 10:25PM

    @ bangash

    if its so then she has every right to have her case hearing in her own country. Do you have a courage to trial and sentence some foreigner in your country? Recommend

  • Aasia Sohail Mian
    Sep 24, 2010 - 10:27PM

    Our Government was least interested in the case of Dr. Aafia. It was her moral obligation to bring her back but no practical efforts were done to justify the act of bringing her back to Pakistan. Basically this government is the continuation of Perviaz Musharaf and has adopted the same polices which he left before leaving the chair. Same policies but different faces. I do not find any good reason from our government that she will take the matter seriously. God bless Dr. Aafia Siddiqi.This is what I can say and pray as a help less citizen..Recommend

  • Ishaq
    Sep 24, 2010 - 11:03PM

    Thousands of Pakistani People have died due to Terrorists attacks but i have
    never seen not a single protest against the terrorists. But when it comes to
    Blame others or Doing Politics on Irrelevant issues we are the champions in it.Recommend

  • Azad
    Sep 24, 2010 - 11:47PM

    Correction
    “Ishaq you are the you would never see JI protesting the suicide bombing an where in Pakistan.
    should be read as
    Ishaq you are right you would never see JI protesting the suicide bombing any where in Pakistan.Recommend

  • faraz
    Sep 25, 2010 - 1:12AM

    Baloch nationalist gave a list of 100 women who are allegedly picked up by agencies; why dont we protest for the release of those 100 women. They are somewhere inside the country, you dont have to negotiate with a foreign country for their release. Recommend

  • Raja Akram
    Sep 25, 2010 - 1:13AM

    Some facts – Aafia Siddiqui was arrested in Afghanistan, not Pakistan as has been falsely reported. Her sister is a liar and is on video (GEO TV’s Capital Talk – Hamid Mir – episode when she was first arrested) confirming that Afia was arrested in Afghanistan – she later changed her story.

    The FBI became suspicious of Afia Siddiqui after 2001 for having used a debit card to buy night-vision goggles, body armor, and military manuals from American websites, and for donating to charities the FBI watches closely. Subsequently, her activities were tracked and she was eventually arrested in Afghanistan. (Normal law abiding citizens do not buy night-vision goggles and body armor).

    I would request that Express News put together a detailed report on Dr. Aafia and present it objectively to Pakistanis. A lot of people don’t know the facts and sympathize with her based on false facts. She is an intelligent women who had passionate views and she simply went militant. Recommend

  • Khadim Husain
    Sep 25, 2010 - 10:59AM

    Shame on peoples that are teaching lessons for observing their democratic right to protest against unjust punishment on the basis of Islamophobia. Free american dollars have snatched wisdom, civility and national brotherhood from Pakistanis. Some peoples who are siding with imperialists were seen lamenting on under wear theft case of Begum Wali Khan when she was sentensed by courts at UK.
    Fauzia Siddiqui we support you in protests against most tyrinical decision of courts. By the way she had no charge of terrorism or links with Al Qaeda neither anyone proved that. Moreover she did not kill anyone and it is laughing that she is convicted in simple assault case.
    All pakistani nationals must participate in protests and let pro-US lobby think for their safety.Recommend

  • A.R
    Sep 25, 2010 - 11:59AM

    @Bangash– Dr.Afia has NOT been charged with terrorism in the court. So she has not undergone any trial of whether she was a terrorist or not!

    @Anoop thats what you call BLIND FAITH!

    BTW i don’t know if she shot at them or not (I personally think it was impossible for her to do) but i wonder wht I would do had I been kidnapped by a bunch of american soldiers? What would you do? Ironic isn’t it you get charged for shooting at your kidnappers in America.

    And I have been folllowing the news; where have protestors detroyed any public property?? there were only reports of burning american flags, and bush(s) obama(s) and musharrafs(s) and personal tyres…can any one direct me to the news where protestors detroyed public property?

    @ And unless and until our nation learns to RESPECT and feel the IMPORTANCE OF each and every life WE CANNOT progress as a great nation. Floods, terrorism etc are great issues but this is too!! it determines our present and future and also of the thousands who are missing! We don’t want to get ‘STRIP SEARCHED’ and ‘DOG LICKED’ each time w travel to another country!!!!

    What about the fact that she had been repeatedly raped and tortured in prison??? And what did her innocent children do?? One is still missing!Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Sep 25, 2010 - 3:05PM

    What would these people get by burning tires and their own country ?

    Where was the Govt and PM before al this ? This case has been going on for years ?Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 25, 2010 - 6:07PM

    @A.R.,

    “BTW i don’t know if she shot at them or not (I personally think it was impossible for her to do) but i wonder wht I would do had I been kidnapped by a bunch of american soldiers? What would you do? Ironic isn’t it you get charged for shooting at your kidnappers in America.”

    –> How do you know what has happened? Have you read her testimony or the marines? I am pretty sure you have not.

    “What about the fact that she had been repeatedly raped and tortured in prison??? “

    –> What ever your severely anti-American press has said about the event is just rubbish. How will they come to know if she was raped or not.

    Hasn’t she herself said she was not tortured? You are speaking as it it is the undeniable truth. America and Americans are far superior society and have a far superior system any in the Muslim world. Recommend

  • aahmed
    Sep 26, 2010 - 2:49AM

    I wonder how many of these protestors will move to USA if given a chance.Recommend

  • A.R
    Sep 26, 2010 - 1:15PM

    @Anoop

    You ignored what i asked and started discussing whether she fired at them or not…which is different from what i asked: “i wonder wht I would do had I been kidnapped by a bunch of american soldiers? What would you do? Ironic isn’t it you get charged for shooting at your kidnappers in America.””

    I have read abt the conflicting testimonies of the soldiers on the issue and her testimony (which to me, seems to be one of a mentally ill individual) but thats a different issue.

    You said: What ever your severely anti-American press has said about the event is just rubbish. How will they come to know if she was raped or not.
    Hasn’t she herself said she was not tortured? You are speaking as it it is the undeniable truth. America and Americans are far superior society and have a far superior system any in the Muslim world.

    The problem with Americans is also that they never watch or read what the press of other countries has to say. Yeah i know you don’t understand other languages, thats a major restriction. But not us. We excessively watch american nd british news channels. CNN and BBC were aired on Pakistan’s national channels free of cost when i was a child. It is YOUR OWN media which has said this. Search abt what Yvonne Ridley (a british journalist) had to say…She has worked on this torture issue and the shooting issue as well. And also what Tina Foster (head of the intenational justice network nw york) has to say.

    Furthermore a bagram prisoner has himself written a book in which he talks abt dr.aafias torture. dr. afia has herself been telling her family members abt how \she was tortured, raped and strip searched and her family has been saying the same…and what abt her children why were they away for so long? and where is her youngest child?

    AND the world is completely aware of the far superior american standards like how they were on display for the world to see at ABU GHRAIB http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AbuGhraibtortureandprisoner_abuseRecommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 26, 2010 - 5:27PM

    @A.R.,

    I know US is not an angel. It has run or running secret detention centers,probably, around the world(There is no clear way to establish this, again). But, not on US soil. Torture cannot happen on US soil or the case against any accused becomes really weak according to US law. In this aspect it is a little different from Indian and Pakistani law inherited from the British.

    Anyway, whatever you arguments about her guilt and how evil America is, the fact is they will never send any criminally charged and convicted person to Pakistan. Pakistan is a client state of the US and the prisoner exchange is a one way process.

    Dr. Aafia, I read, is a US citizen. She’ll live the rest of her life incarcerated in the US prison. That is for certain.Recommend

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