For years our family was enduring this plight on our own. Few months back, I felt I was alone with an ailing mother, but today I feel I have millions of family members with me in this plight to stand up and defend the ultimate symbol of purity and innocence: My sister, Aafia Siddiqui.
Sometimes events occur in the lives of individuals and in the lives of nations that transcend all petty issues. It is these times when a person’s and a nation’s resolve, honour and courage are tested. Today we are confronted with such a test.
The matter is really simple. An ordinary Pakistani wrongfully taken to a foreign country [USA] without established processes. She disappeared from Karachi [Pakistan] without any legal or judicial process.
The Issue: What is a Pakistani worth to its Government?
How we define the life of a single Pakistani, will define how each one of us is identified and valued by others.
If the nation and its government can unify to make the life of one Pakistani a top priority and have the faith and confidence to stake its policy on the safety of that one life, then we will have redefined the value of all Pakistanis and the dignity of the whole nation. Each politician will be a hero and each citizen more respectable in the world.
After all, remember that it is the cries of one woman (in the court of Raja Dahir) that defines our very existence in this subcontinent and now another woman’s cries challenge our right to continue that existence.
We have already seen that a new day is dawning in this country. The leaders of all groups should take the opportunity to continue to demonstrate that the changes are not just about the politicians at the top but now the citizens will matter. This is a case that is human at its core and universal in appeal. If we can show results for her, the country can believe that we can show results for the other issues as well.
We do not believe Aafia can get justice in the U.S. We are in fear that the US authorities holding Aafia have almost completed their “script” to explain her “discovery”. They conveniently disown ever having her in US custody. They are sure to make her out to be a major terror figure to mask the
five years of torture, rape and child molestation as reported by human rights groups. Who knows, the list of charges may even include responsibility for the Tsunami or the October 7th earthquake.
But remember, in five years she was not charged with anything. And it is proof of her innocence and we should not forget that regardless of the spins that continue to emerge. Even her FBI poster says all she was sought for was possible information – FIVE YEARS AGO. No reward, no terrorism charge, not even considered armed and dangerous!
But five years later, after international outcry finally got momentum, a major cover has to be developed. The location of the court a mile from ground zero in New York, the selection of the jury who have lost someone in 9/11, poisoning them with media reports, using a Pakistani woman [Ms. Mehtab Syed] sworn FBI agent to file the complaint, threatening our local media. The delay in medical care, basic human rights violations, dehumanizing strip searches, I could go on and on.
Given recent history, the odds of any fair hearing, let alone trial, are negligible. We are told we are poor and powerless, but are we really? Certainly, we are not without power. We have strategic value to the world that we seldom exert. Well, now is the time to exert it and shed the image of
the beggar and regain some pride.
While resolutions are welcome, they must not be impotent. Please link her release to Pakistan’s continued cooperation on many fronts. Let’s define what cooperation means with our friends. It must work both ways.
This is a story of much greater significance than just my sister or one woman. Her torture is a crime beyond anything she was ever accused of (which was basically nothing) and this is a slap on the honor of our nation and the whole of humanity. The perpetrators of those crimes are the ones who need to be brought to account. That is the real crime of terror here. There are innocent children involved. Her 11-year-old son has been identified in Afghanistan, but in U.S. custody, and there are credible reports that he may be in Guantanamo Bay! Are they charging him as a potential terrorist or using him against his mom?
Two other kids are also involved, whom we will continue to search for.
This is not a gamble. It is a show of resolve and commitment. I strongly believe we are not a helpless and useless nation even though at times we behave as if we are. We must stop being self-defeatist.
I appeal to your humanity and your courage:
- Expedite the extradition of Aafia back to Pakistan. The whole process is unlawful and there are a lot of lawyers here who know, her extradition from Pakistan to Afghanistan, from Afghanistan to US both were illegal. Aafia was a Pakistani and is a Pakistani, she never
had any other nationality.
- Get custody of her 11-year-old son ASAP, whose innocence no one can deny. He has been identified in U.S. custody, location is vague, please exert all diplomatic pressure both on the U.S. and Afghanistan to locate and return him.
Ultimately, all is in Allah’s hands and we ask for His help and mercy.
Dr Fowzia Siddiqui
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s sole younger sister Consultant Neurologist and Epileptologist Co-Director Epilepsy Program
Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan
Director Epilepsy Telemedicine program and Epilepsy Clinics
Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center, Karachi, Pakistan
Dr Fowzia is critical of Pakistan’s rulers for not doing enough for Aafia’s release. She in this respect quotes British Muslim journalist Mariam Evon Read who on March 19, 2010 said at the Karachi Press Club that the Government of Pakistan had not even raised the issue of Aafia’s release with the US Government. She had told the media that the FM Shah Mehmud Qureshi and Hussain Haqqani were making fool of the nation.
Dr Fowzia claims that the Government of Pakistan actually hired lawyers in Aafia’s case not to defend her but to get her convicted.
Dr Fowzia continues to claim that Aafia was abducted from Karachi in 2003; was confined by the intelligence agencies at the Karachi Cantonment; and then transferred to Bagram base in Afghanistan.
Recently, Fowzia got a petition signed by 1.3 million people asking President Obama to release Aafia. She claims that Pakistan’s former CJ Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui, Admiral Ifthikar Ahmad Sirohi, Dr Ashraf Abbasi, Justice Wajih Ahmad and Senator Talha Mehmud have also written to American authorities in this regard.
Dr Fowzia is hoping that President Obama may release her during his last year in office as he would not be under pressure due to electoral concerns.