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Aafia’s sister approaches apex court

Updated May 15, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Dr Fauzia Siddiqui — the sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqi who is currently undergoing jail term in the United States — approached the Supreme Court on Monday, requesting it to order the government to formulate a comprehensive policy for protecting fundamental rights of Pakistanis detained abroad.

Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault of US personnel, is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, US.

Her sister Dr Fauzia — a Harvard educated neurologist who is also chairperson of the Aafia Move­ment — has highlighted the plight of Pakistanis, who have been detained in prisons of foreign countries, through a petition she filed in the apex court. She has requested the court to look into the issue, considering when they (Pakis­tani prisoners) can be repatriated if the government reaches out on a diplomatic level.

The petition deplored that several Pakistanis had been detained in foreign prisons on petty offences without any assistance or help from the Pakistan government.

In her petition, Dr Siddiqui has named as respondents the government through secretaries of law, interior, foreign ministries, overseas Pakistanis and human resource development as well Hussain Haqqani.

The petition regretted that the government had failed to implement the Supreme Court’s directive of May 20, 2010 for streamlining an institutional mechanism to secure the release and repatriation of Pakistanis detained or imprisoned abroad.

“I believe this court is a constitutional court and believes in the upholding of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan,” the petition said.

The petition requested the court to direct the government to devise a framework for providing legal assistance to the Pakistanis detained abroad and ratify international treaties; either the convention on the transfer of sentenced persons or the inter-American convention on serving criminals sentences abroad. These ratifications were necessary in order to repatriate Dr Aafia Siddiqui and other Pakistani prisoners as soon as possible.

The petitioner also sought a directive for the government to suspend prisoner transfer to the US unless Dr Aafia was released to Pakistani authorities. The government should also provide an update about the status as well as the well-being, mental and physical state of Dr Aafia and confirm — independently — that she is alive and well on an urgent basis, the petition said.

It urged the court to order the government to extend cooperation in obtaining a US visa so that Dr Fauzia could travel to the US and visit her sister (Dr Aafia). The petition also demanded that a committee be constituted — which should include a team of medical experts — to examine Dr Aafia’s health.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2018