LAHORE, Aug 12: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded an official investigation into the disappearance of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her children in 2003 and urged the government to ensure justice, immediate medical attention and necessary facilities to her.

HRCP Chairperson Asma Jehangir said in a statement on Tuesday that Dr Siddiqui should not be repatriated to Pakistan against her wishes and be allowed a full opportunity to contest her case in the US. She said once she was repatriated to Pakistan, the doctor would be pressured by the intelligence agencies to be silent and would not be able to secure justice. It might be relief that she has been traced but the government must disclose the whereabouts of her children.

She said that the HRCP had been following the case of disappearance of Dr Siddiqui and her three children since March, 2003. Dr Siddiqui with her children left her mother’s house for Karachi Airport in a taxi and was picked up by intelligence agency officials. What she was accused of when picked up has not been public till date. Strangely, the only charge against her was an alleged assault against her captors while in custody.

She said the HRCP was concerned about the violation of human rights and demanded an explanation from the government at the time of disappearance of Dr Siddiqui and her children. The commission contacted her parents, but they were under severe threat of intelligence agencies not to speak to the press or any human rights organisation. HRCP representatives had, however, been in contact with the family since then and filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court which was pending.

She said the HRCP was convinced that Dr Siddiqui and her children were picked up in Karachi as was evident from initial reports. The government should now play a positive role in ensuring that she got full justice, fair trial as well as compensation from the US for mistreatment meted out to her.

Even though, Pakistan had sought consular access to her, these belated efforts could only by compensated if the government was able to intervene in the US courts and submit an honest investigation report. The HRCP would remain in touch with lawyers defending Dr Siddiqui and would try to submit its own reports through her lawyers.

The HRCP chairperson said that the violation of rights of the doctor and her children and countless other missing people was the responsibility of the Pakistani government. There was enough evidence indicating that she was initially picked up by the intelligence agencies in Pakistan and therefore it was not only the US government but also the Pakistani government that must be made accountable for the crime.She said she feared that the fate of Dr Siddiqui would be the same as hundreds of others who had disappeared, been tortured and rendered to third countries without legal process.

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