Ms Fauzia Siddiqui, the sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, will be contesting elections against former mayor of Karachi and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Naimatullah Khan. Understandably, this has put the JI in a tight spot.
She originally decided to contest from NA-250 (Karachi) in order to take on former President Pervez Musharraf. Now, his nomination papers for that constituency have been rejected and one has to wait and see whether he will file an appeal or not.
Fauzia, who decided to contest as an independent after getting a cold shoulder from the JI, is still in the running. Despite the JI’s best efforts, she has refused to withdraw. A senior JI leader in Karachi confirmed that efforts were made to convince her not to contest but she insisted and there is not much they can do to change her mind.
Why the JI refused her a ticket is another question. Sources say the tough JI conditionality for selection of the candidates may have prevented them from nominating or even supporting her in the elections. But one wonders why the Jamaat, which has seen its influence in Karachi whittled away, did not cash in on this opportunity.
After all, the Pasban, which comprises of youth members of the JI, have led a campaign too free Dr Aafia since 2005 and are still backing Fauzia Siddiqui. They too are now in a fix.
However, the JI is now giving more importance to its other youth wing, Shabab-e-Milli , and seems to have practically abandoned the Pasban, which was promoted by former JI Ameer, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, in the ’90s.
Fauzia, who is inexperienced in politics, came to the fore after 2005, when for the first time a foreign female journalist disclosed the presence of her sister Aafia in an Afghan jail.
Dr Aafia, who was residing in the US, disappeared in May 2003 after she left her home in Karachi, where she was staying with her mother. It is generally believe that she was picked up in an intelligence operation and handed over to the US at the old Quaid-e-Azam International Airport, from where she was flown to Kabul.
Surprisingly, the then MMA, which included the JI, did not raise the issue in the National Assembly or even in what was then the NWFP Assembly.
Her mother, who was interviewed for the first time by me, about a week after Aafia’s disappearance, disclosed that she was assured by then chairman of the Senate Mohammad Mian Soomro and Mushahid Hussain Syed, that she would be returned. That promise remains unfulfilled.
One also wonders what Fauzia Siddiqui wants to achieve by contesting elections, given that she stands little chance of success and that her defeat can only damage her sister’s cause. She has every right to feel disappointed with the JI for not supporting her or nominating her, but the cause of releasing her sister should take precedence over an electoral bid.
The Jamaat could have accommodated her on a reserved seat and only the Jamaat’s leadership knows why they did not do so. If they can make seat adjustments with the PML (N), the leader of which its Ameer once described as “two sides of the same coin,” when comparing him to Asif Ali Zardari, then one seat could have been given to Fauzia as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2013.
Correction: In an earlier version of the story, Naimatullah Khan was mistakenly referred to as Naimatullah Siddiqui. The error has been fixed.