Dr Aafia’s conviction and Musharraf’s complicity

Published: September 29, 2010
The writer has served as ambassador to Afghanistan and chief secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

The writer has served as ambassador to Afghanistan and chief secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sentence of 86 years of imprisonment by a US court is both shocking and surprising. It seems to be based on a bizarre story – constructed around the allegations that a woman in custody attempted to snatch a rifle from an American soldier with the intent to kill him. And this found credence and conviction with a court of law. How could there be any legal justification for such a preposterously concocted narrative?

The court ignored a vital missing ingredient in the prosecution case, namely the period between her capture from Karachi by operatives of an intelligence agency and her subsequent arrest more than a year later from central Afghanistan and paid no heed to the abuse that she was subjected to while being held in illegal detention in Bagram base by US military.

To have been held in unlawful custody, to have been subjected to physical abuse in Bagram, to have been denied facilities of self-defence for five years and to have been convicted on wholly fabricated charges is one aspect of this painful saga.

The other side of the story is equally grim and shameful. It was General Musharraf and the leaders of an elite intelligence agency who arrested Dr Siddiqui along with her small children and, having separated her from her siblings, presented her as a gift to the US military in one of the most disgraceful acts ever committed by the head of an Islamic country or by the ruler of any country. The “commando” president would later audaciously claim credit for handing over such suspects (refer to his book In the line of fire). It is this aspect that now needs to be analysed and addressed. Former President Musharraf is as guilty as the unjust criminal law system that operates in the US for the conviction of a helpless Muslim woman. Any such appraisal would require an exhaustive investigation of our state organisations and their unlimited powers to arrest, torture and at times handover suspects to foreign countries without being held to account for any of these actions.

If we had institutions like a sovereign parliament, Musharraf and those who implemented immoral and unlawful actions would have faced a rigourous process of accountability. Not only that, the parliament would have made laws that would stand in the way of any such oligarchs who consider themselves to be above the law or who could behave in such a disgraceful manner while in occupation of the highest offices in the land, and it would have the capability to enforcing its directives.

But if history is any judge this will also pass and soon we will be overtaken by other events. Long live the Islamic Republic.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2010.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (31)

  • Akbar
    Sep 30, 2010 - 1:40AM

    Shame on you Mr. rustam Shah for misguiding the already misguided nation. It looks like you have no clue about the story. You being an ambassador and now a chief secretary could have done little more research to it. You should also be charged for moral support to a terrorist. You will only understand when terrorists like Dr. afia. Will blow themselves up in the middle of a crowd. Completely baised and baseless allegation with little truth in your writing. Recommend

  • Cronous
    Sep 30, 2010 - 2:04AM

    “The court ignored a vital missing ingredient in the prosecution case, namely the period between her capture from Karachi by operatives of an intelligence agency and her subsequent arrest more than a year later from central Afghanistan and paid no heed to the abuse that she was subjected to while being held in illegal detention in Bagram base by US military.”

    As is usual for much of Pakistani media, the article confuses allegations for fact. Why exactly should anyone believe this? Because of a rumor or because other media personalities have repeated this over and over again? If you have any actual evidence of this then you should present it to the court. Moreover why was Aafia’s family silent during here period of disappearance, only now they come up with these stories.Recommend

  • Shahid Shah
    Sep 30, 2010 - 2:18AM

    I disagree with you. I’ve read the book and Musharraf never makes any claim about the Pakistani government handing over Afia or any Pakistanis, but rather they correctly arrested and handed over internationally wanted criminals such as Khalid Sheikh Mohmmad who are not Pakistanis. Stop spinning and spreading disinformation. Additionally, no one knows the true facts on Afia’s so kindly stop inventing your version of the truth on hearsay. Let’s not forget that ever since Musharraf’s departure drone activity and undercover operations by secret agencies like blackwater have increased significantly. This would be the case in a PPP or PML-N government as both are compromised and working for international patrons! Musharraf hasn’t done 1/10 the damage to the country and the people as this disgraceful set-up!Recommend

  • mario
    Sep 30, 2010 - 2:49AM

    another baseless and nonsense stuff here…trying hard to malign Musharraf’s return.
    These anti-Musharraf supports (who are not many) are seriously having sleepless nights as teh launch of his party is getting close. :)

    As for Aafia Siddiqui, justice has been served. I don’t know what books the author is reading but if you follow the case from the beginning….there is plenty if evidence to convict her.

    Pakistan First!Recommend

  • Zameer
    Sep 30, 2010 - 3:01AM

    The US has a sovereign parliament and significant, rigorous processes for accountability. Yet they were able to wage two wars with fabricated evidence that was later nullified. This is not just a problem of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. There is a global coalition whose aims remain unclear. Even the greed for oil doesn’t make sense by itself. Islam was turned into the new enemy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The great powers must justify spending billions of dollars and euros on their armies and nuclear powers. All of this is leading into a mish-mash and Pakistan is caught up very badly in the middle of it. We are allies on one hand, haven for terrorists on the other. So many contradictions. The only solution is for the public to wake up and start questioning, vehemently, each and every one of the steps being taken by so called sovereign parliaments and elected leaders everywhere in the world. The story of Dr. Aafia is more crucial for US citizens to discuss as this apparent travesty of justice has happened on their soil. Recommend

  • Sep 30, 2010 - 3:30AM

    I am sorry. But this article is too childish and too immature to deserve a place at tribune opinion section. It’s about time tribune strict its editing policy. Recommend

  • Sep 30, 2010 - 3:37AM

    I respect Mr. Rustam shah Mohmand and his narration of Dr. Afia’s case. However, it was much better if honourable Rustam shah mohmand had read her husband’s serialised article appeared some months ago in karachi’s daily ‘ummat’. He has given a detailed account of how his ex-wife ruined their and their children’s settled and comfortable life in the united startes by engaging herself single-handedly in ‘jihad against america’. However, this aside, I vehemently condemn the american-style flawed justice of which dr. afia is a victim.Recommend

  • faraz
    Sep 30, 2010 - 5:49AM

    Ambassador, atleast you have pointed towards the right direction, the problem is not US, its us. Those who are protesting against this verdict should have the moral courage to blame the real person and institution responsible for her travails. But the right wing ghairat brigade cant do that! Recommend

  • Malik Tabeer
    Sep 30, 2010 - 6:34AM

    i will only suggest this writer get ur fact correction , you don’t know simply My God Recommend

  • ADE
    Sep 30, 2010 - 8:11AM

    Agree 100%Recommend

  • Sep 30, 2010 - 9:44AM

    The conviction might be based upon a bizarre story yet the fact remains that Dr. Aafia had connections of questionable natures with Al-Qaeda.

    I think that government of Pakistan must use all diplomatic means to bring her back to the country and put her on trial here if there is evidence of substantial nature.

    I think that we must look into the problem with every angle and must not be carried away by emotions and personal bias.

    It has become almost fashionable to blame General Musharraf for almost all the wrongs in the country which in my opinion is not correct.

    If Musharraf was wrong in succumbing to the US pressure why has the civilian government not been able to bring about any change in the policy. The situation has worsened in the democratic government. At least there were no drone attacks earlier and there were no violation of international borders.

    Bring Aafia back but do not forget to ask her as to what she had been doing.Recommend

  • Sep 30, 2010 - 9:44AM

    Happy to see an artical on usa judgment, without involving “personal investiagtion”.

    Even Us court did not questioned about al-qaeda, but few of our “intectulal” still have concerned with that, even thery articals are based on such personal investigation…Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Sep 30, 2010 - 10:04AM

    OMG, dear author I am sorry to say that you are blinded by the hate of Mr. Musharraf. First of all this is all rhetoric of her being arrested in Karachi in 2003, where the US issued the most wanted list naming her in that in 2004.

    Secondly, it is now a known fact that she was married to & related to atleast 2 most wanted Al-Qaeda members & her second husband was a member as well. Why don’t you ask her first husband the reason for leaving her? It is for the sole reason of her inclination towards these Arabs & Egyptians fighting their war on our land.

    The author seems one of those Al-Qaeda & Talibans (whats the word that is doing rounds these days) “Apologists”. Even if she was kidnapped, arrested or whatever from KARACHI is less, because she helped in one way or the other people who have killed my fellow citizens & my soldiers. My question to the author is, didn’t these innocent people have rights? Or their families have rights? I have my sympathies towards the people killed by the US bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan & Israelis bombing in Palestine, I will support them in any way that is legally possible, but I first concern is my country & my people.

    I will not shed a single tear for a person like Ms. Siddiqui or her family, simply because her actions directly or indirectly have resulted in the loss or many lives & loved ones of many of my countrymen & women.

    I will give up 10000 people like Ms. Siddiqui & Mr. Faisal Shehzad over 1 fellow citizen or my country soldiers anytime of the day.Recommend

  • kamran khan baloch
    Sep 30, 2010 - 12:40PM

    All these people are not interested in release of Afia, they are just using her name for their own gains. Even Dr. Afia’s family…90% of their efforts have been on somehow or the other put the blame on Musharraf, and only 10% in actual release of Afia. Recommend

  • Omar Sarfraz
    Sep 30, 2010 - 1:10PM

    So called Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and there is a new culture of giving “safe passage” to all the corrupt leaders so I believe very less could be done. Recommend

  • parvez
    Sep 30, 2010 - 1:11PM

    Afia’s judgement could be termed as a bad judgement, and can be appealed.
    Lets be dispassionate : the American justice system does work.Recommend

  • Disgusted
    Sep 30, 2010 - 1:30PM

    I will agree with you that Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s case was quite unorthodox but please don’t try and tell me that you believe she was completely innocent. Only an individual blind to the realities of todays world and her case would say so.
    You think that she never had an inclining of what her husband Ammar al-Baluchi and his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were planning. Do you think any sane woman would stick around with somebody who is planning to massacre thousands of people.
    I agree with the notion that maybe the information provided was not on the up and up but don’t tell me that since she is a Muslim oh and top of that a week and helpless woman (i don’t know what world you are living in but the week and helpless women was a breed that died out last century) so she is automatically pious and of course falsely accused or undeserving of punishment any kind.
    And also your staement
    “Any such appraisal would require an exhaustive investigation of our state organisations and their unlimited powers to arrest, torture and at times handover suspects to foreign countries without being held to account for any of these actions.”
    Do you really think that the first time something like this happened in Pakistan was during Mussharraf rule. You look like a matured and learned individual i would hope that you are not that naive. Every government has at one time or another used all your mentioned methods/powers to remove individuals they wanted to get rid off.
    So in the end my message is twofold. Firstly don’t ride high on your own morality as a Muslim and Pakistani (apparently this makes you automatically innocent as a new born babe and pious as saint) and declare innocence where guilt is found as well and secondly stop blaming all the issues that Pakistan has only on Mussharraf there is enough blame to go around.Recommend

  • ArifQ
    Sep 30, 2010 - 1:40PM

    Dear Writer Sahib, it seems you have an agenda and no real sympathy for Dr Aafia who’s uncle has given a signed affidavit that she came to his house in Lahore in 2008 and stayed with them.Recommend

  • Sep 30, 2010 - 1:55PM

    Rustam shah is one of most respected bureaucrat of Pakistan who has said & commented only what the true reality is.what he said has never been denied some one if oppose may not has the sense of facing the truth.Recommend

  • adnan
    Sep 30, 2010 - 2:03PM

    Utter nonsense of an article… taliban recently captured a british worker and demanded for afia’s release.. WHY? she is not of their type.. she is a Phd. they dont even let women to study… and all teh parties in pakisrtan ave labelled her paksitan kee baiti.. and taliban want to exchange this baiti with a british worker.. funny how extreme forces come together on a same platform of hypocracy….. the only unjust thing done to afia was her trial done in US and US not handing her ovre to pakistan.. but think how wud we have treated an FBI wanted person… wud we be better than how she was treated in US.. there are soo many women in jail without any charge subject to rape daily in our jails. she wud have ended up one of them.. please stop calling hr paksitan kee baiti and stop using peoples emotions for political gainsRecommend

  • Tayyab Raza
    Sep 30, 2010 - 2:19PM

    Pro-taliban and pro-terrorists.
    who are you ??Recommend

  • yaz
    Sep 30, 2010 - 3:13PM

    Innocent until proven guilty. Her guilt could only be proven if charges brought on her, being an Al qaeda operative/ supporter could be proven in a court of law. The charge she is convicted of is ludicrous, for which she has been awarded 86 years.

    I say prove the charge of her being a terrorist and for which she was on FBIs most wanted list for a number of years and then give her 100 years. But until this charge is proved, she’s innocent. Recommend

  • Q
    Sep 30, 2010 - 3:13PM

    Absolutely baseless.Recommend

  • SB
    Sep 30, 2010 - 3:20PM

    Brilliant article….Recommend

  • Jahanzeb
    Sep 30, 2010 - 3:28PM

    I am shocked the media doesn’t screen or publish these articles without a valid ‘Reference.’ It clearly shows your lack of knowledge and understanding of the situation and your biased opinion. Your childish approach to Dr. Afia’s case is not going to help change opinions here. The ‘Educated,’ ‘facebook aware’ population who you are expressing your opinion to is quite well versed with President Musharraf and the facts about his government. I always argue with Dr. Afia’s sympathizers, why don’t you or me get arrested and sent to US jail. Its because we did not provoke them. Every action has a reaction.Recommend

  • Sheikh Sarmad
    Sep 30, 2010 - 4:22PM

    if she is sentenced on the basis of concoctive narrative…then what evidence does the auther have that she was allegedly kidnapped by intelligence agencies from Karachi…held and tortured in Bagram Air Base and was not working for Taliban in Afghanistan?Recommend

  • Saleem
    Sep 30, 2010 - 4:24PM

    Another suecide attack on General Musharraf.Recommend

  • s. nazir mohmand
    Sep 30, 2010 - 9:55PM

    Hard facts are difficult to swallow, Rust Shah has hit the nail on the head by pinning the commando ,dictator for the crime he committed so boastfully reference ,in the line of fire,. He has earned huge bounties on the shameful acts like missing persons and filling the cages of Bagram and Gitmo with his own country men and women, besides innocent diplomat, Mulla Zaeef.
    He has got the cheeks to distance him self from Dr Afia case, he is simply mistaken. It is an indelible stain, no detergent will work. I solute Afia,s mother and sister that they refuse to attend his call and also closed their doors for his cronies and Face Book supporters.
    If Mr Bravado, is so clean, courageous and morally strong then, what stops him from landing in Pakistan, where he surrender its sovereignty on a single call.
    A good incisive analysis ,keep it up, Rustam Shah.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 30, 2010 - 9:58PM

    Aafia can always appeal against the judgment in a higher court of law. Let not treat one of the best judicial systems as a piece of trash.

    If she is punished then it is only done so when all the evidence points against her and conclusively proves that she is guilty. Recommend

  • urouj mirza
    Sep 30, 2010 - 11:17PM

    plz b clear in ur facts. who will not know wat u guys are trying to do.plz do not twist storiesRecommend

  • Patriot
    Oct 1, 2010 - 11:32AM

    wow…amazing responses by most reader…we are not a dead nation yet!Recommend

More in Opinion