IHC terms foreign ministry's report on Dr Aafia Siddiqui 'unsatisfactory'

Summons an official of the level of foreign secrtetary at next hearing; directs federal govt to submit progress report


Saqib Bashir January 11, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday termed the foreign ministry's report on Dr Aafia Siddiqui 'unsatisfactory', and summoned an officer of the foreign secretary level at the next hearing.

A petition filed for the release and repatriation of Dr Aafia Siddiqui was heard by IHC Justice Amir Farooq, wherein the foreign ministry's report was presented by Deputy Attorney General Raja Khalid Mehmood.

The court asked what documentary evidence had the Government of Pakistan provided it regarding the case. "What value does a report hold without documentary evidence?" the court observed.

In 2010, a US federal court in Manhattan had sentenced Dr Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of US military personnel in Afghanistan. She is serving her sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell, Fort Worth in Texas.

Siddiqui's sister, Fowzia Siddiqui's counsel said the state has a responsibility to protect its citizens, adding that Aafia Siddiqui was abducted, and claiming that there has been no update whether she was still alive or not.

The deputy attorney general told the court that the consulate in the United States (US) looks after the case.

"You have not even filed the report properly. We will not deal with this case based on your statements. The case was fixed for hearing four years later, and even today a proper report has not been filed. The Foreign Office is not serious about this matter," Justice Farooq observed.

The IHC has directed the federal government to submit a progress report and maintained that it is the responsibility of the state to protect every citizen.

The court summoned an official of the level of a foreign secretary or joint secretary at the next hearing.

In May, 2020, Fowzia Siddiqui had also filed a plea in the Sindh High Court (SHC) regarding the threat posed by Covid-19 to Dr Aafia Siddiqui in the US prison.

The case was being heard by a two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed.

In her reply, Fowzia maintained that the federal government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were informed regarding the risk to the health and safety of Dr Aafia during the pandemic, adding that, reportedly, a woman kept in the same prison as Dr Aafia had died of the coronavirus, while 131 others were infected with it.

She maintained that the federal government was not interested in the case and refused to sincerely take up the matter, adding that the respondents had brought no material with them to the hearing, which made it evident that they were ill-prepared.

She stated that under article four of the Constitution of Pakistan, it was the duty of the federal government to protect the dignity and life of Pakistani citizens wherever they may be.

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