Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal on Thursday said his comments regarding Pakistani national Dr Aafia Siddiqui were misreported in the media.
“We are in touch with Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s family and we will continue our efforts to bring her back. This is yet another instance that forces us to reiterate the importance of responsible journalism,” Dr Faisal said during his weekly briefing.
He stressed that Pakistan’s stance on the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and Dr Shakeel Afridi remains unchanged.
On Tuesday, the FO spokesperson was reported as saying that Aafia does not want to return to Pakistan. In an interview with Independent Urdu, Dr Faisal said that rumours of her repatriation were false.
“She herself does not want to come back home [Pakistan], according to what I have heard,” the FO spokesperson said, adding that chances of Dr Aafia’s return were dependent on a future meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump.
Dr Faisal went on to say that if the Imran-Trump meeting takes place, then Aafia’s exchange for Dr Shakeel Afridi could be mulled over.
Aafia has been behind bars since 2010 on charges of attempted murder and mounting an assault on US military personnel. She is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell, Fort Worth in Texas.
Dr Afridi has been accused of helping the US in tracking down the then al Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. Currently, he is in a Peshawar prison.
Last year, Fouzia Siddiqui, Aafia’s sister, had requested Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to take up the matter with the US.
The foreign minister had said that the issue of Dr Aafia’s repatriation was “being considered”, following which Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston Aisha Farooqui had met Aafia and urged Washington to “respect her human and legal rights”.