LAHORE: Noted human rights attorney and lawyer in Dr Aafia Siddiqui case, Clive Safford Smith, has said that more efforts are needed within Pakistan to secure the release of Dr Siddiqui as hurdles in her return appear to be originating in Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference here at the Lahore Press Club here on Wednesday, he said the Aafia case is the worst example of human rights violations, adding that her emotional trauma is even worse than that of Guantanamo prisoners.

He said Dr Aafia has no idea why she is where she is and despite being a highly brilliant woman, her life being gradually sucked out of her.

The lawyer said being deprived of all outside communication, is like being trapped in an avalanche with no one to call.

Smith said that he gave Afia hope by telling her that people in Pakistan loved her and she expressed her faith in the Pakistani people. “I appeal to you not to let her down,” he asked the audience. “She is yours and you the keepers of justice, the defenders of constitutional rights, need to unite and rise above [mutual differences] to support our efforts.”

Saying that it appears the hurdle to bringing Aafia home are here in her own country, he stressed the need to identify and overcome these hurdle.

Smith apologised for the “mistakes” his country (US) made and for its “flawed” justice system that resulted in Aafia’s incarceration and allowed Guantánamo Bay to continue, though Bagram and Abu Gharaib have been shut down because of the efforts of humanitarian activists.

He claimed Aafia’s case is human at its core and universal in appeal.

Aafia Movement leader Dr Fowzia Siddiqui said her sister’s case is a big question mark on the state of protection of the rights of Pakistani citizens.

She said it is the most severe torture for a woman to snatch her children from her, adding that Afia’s three children were separated from her and she had been in detention for the last two decades.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2023

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