Aafia has signed mercy petition, Senate told

Updated 30 Oct 2020

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A file photo of Pakistan-born neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
A file photo of Pakistan-born neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

ISLAMABAD: The Senate was informed on Thursday that Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted by a US court on the charge of shooting at army and FBI officers while in custody in Afghanistan, has finally signed a mercy petition.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan said during the question hour that earlier Dr Siddiqui had reservations over filing the mercy petition, but now she has signed it and the petition was being sent to the US president through the jail authorities.

“If we had the power, we would have brought Aafia Siddiqui to Pakistan within 24 hours,” Mr Awan said.

He said Dr Siddiqui had access to e-mail through which she stayed in touch with her family and counsel.

Besides, he said, Dr Aafia had spoken to officials of Pakistan Embassy in the United States by telephone several times.

The adviser said that legal action could be taken against those who had handed over Dr Siddiqui and Aimal Kansi to the United States.

On behalf of the foreign minister, Mr Awan was responding to a question asked by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad who had sought to confirm whether ban had been imposed on meetings with Dr Siddiqui in the US jail during the Covid-19 pandemic and the number of Covid-19 patients was increasing in that prison.

The written reply said that during the pandemic, the consular visits had been suspended by the prison authorities in Federal Medical Centre, Carswell, a US federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, for female inmates with special medical and mental health needs.

“Resultantly, in person meetings of our Consul General with Dr Aafia Siddiqui had been put on hold. However, Consul General remained in touch with the prison authorities in order to get updates on the health and well-being of Dr Aafia,” the reply said.

It said that due to efforts made by Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington DC, a special consular visit had been arranged for the consul general in Houston to meet Dr Siddiqui on Sept 24. During the meeting she herself informed the consul general that her Covid-19 test had come negative. She was alert in her conversation with the diplomat and told him that she had recently been examined by her psychiatrist who had declared her well.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2020