Why are the Pakistani peroxide blondes not coming out in support of Aafia Siddiqui when she is closer to their league? It is surprising to see the Jamaat-i-Islami leading protests and asking for the repatriation of a neuro-scientist as a “daughter of the nation”. It is even more surprising that the Pakistani media is trying to be balanced in this case when they have not shown such circumspection in instances where they have been provided dossiers or infiltrators have been proved culpable on several charges.
Since when has civil society bothered itself much over where Aafia was in the intervening years when people are abducted or disappear on a regular basis? A court in the US tries her for an attempt to kill its soldiers in Afghanistan. What is the basis of such a trial and the sentence of 86 years seems completely bizarre given that no one died. This was at a police station. Did Dr Siddiqui just pick up a gun lying on the table while the cops watched? She aimed and they remained silent? If she is a dreaded terrorist, then why did they hold back?
In a letter to the US attorney general, Yvonne Ridley states: “Not only did the alleged crime happen in another country, but Ms Siddiqui was renditioned without formal extradition papers and without correct consular access according to official US records.”
If her defence lawyers had made a plea on grounds of mental illness as a last-ditch manouevre to reduce her sentence and it has not been reduced, then has her connection with al Qaeda been ascertained? Is shouting “Death to Americans” adequate to condemn her? Why are they looking for soft targets?
The threat perception is loose cannon. Is there any tangible evidence against Aafia except for the whodunit version where nothing was even done?
The reason I have asked about women protesters is because, as happens often, Aafia’s case got ‘complicated’ with the duplicitous ploy of the febrile female accusation. The witch syndrome subjugates women and denies them justice, charging them not of any crime of commission but of complicity. Almost all reports mention some ‘mystery’ surrounding her. The enigma helps bolster an attitude that prevents the need for any real dimension in dealing with what could be a crime.
Here, the crime itself is an abstraction. How dangerous is Aafia, really? Is she more dangerous than the governments that are so corrupt that even those in charge of justice are bought to alter justice? Is she more dangerous than sections of the western world that use their ‘good wishes’ to attack countries? Is she more dangerous than the UN’s big bosses who misuse veto powers? More importantly, what she has been accused of did not happen.
The feminist-activist lobbies need a ‘tribal’ agenda to hit out at. They are unwilling to stick their necks out for a ‘possibility of innocence’ because they are on a diet of spoon-fed causes. They may protest against US interference but toe its line when it comes to which cat to bell and which to let get away with the cream.
The Jamaatis who would want their women in purdah and left uneducated, barefoot, pregnant and most certainly not in the lab, are in the forefront because they are aligning the Aafia case with Islamophobia. Can they ensure that she will get justice in her home country? Isn’t it possible that Aafia is the ‘war booty’ for some crumbs America is throwing the way of Pakistan?
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2010.
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