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Pakistan forms a high-level committee to look into Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's case

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Pakistan's Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, has constituted a four-member committee headed by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to look into the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui who is serving 86 years imprisonment in US on charges of trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The premier formed the committee in a meeting with William Ramsey Clark, former attorney general of United States, and Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, the sister of Dr Aafia, who called on him at the Prime Minister's House. Other members of the committee include ministers for law, interior and human rights.

Talking to media on arrival at Islamabad airport on Tuesday, Clarke said that Aafia Siddiqui's trial was not correct. Aafia is a mother and a daughter, and justice demands that Aafia Siddiqui should immediately be released, he said, adding that Pakistan should raise this issue. He suggested that the US should tell where the son of Aafia is.

He also urged the public to stand up against the injustices being done to the Aafia and press on the Pakistani government to act. "We should speak clearly and honestly against her imprisonment. We are living in world of danger and we must have courage to fight and argue against the injustices being meted to Dr Aafia Siddiqui" If there would be no rule of law there would not be any peace," he opined.

Later addressing a seminar in Karachi, Ramsey Clarke stated that the imprisonment of Dr Aafia Siddiqui is an unjustified act.   He said that the relations between Pakistan and United States would strengthen after the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui. "Dr Aafia Siddiqui was victimised by the international politics being played for power. I haven't witnessed such bare injustice in my entire career," Clark said.

On September 23, 2010, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated cognitive neuroscientist was sentenced to 86 years in prison for trying to kill U.S. agents and military officers in Afghanistan on July 28, 2008. Earlier, on February 3, 2010, a jury in New York found Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, guilty of attempted murder charges on all seven counts listed in the complaint against her. According to the prosecution, Dr. Siddiqui grabbed a US warrant officer's rifle while she was detained for questioning in July 2008 at a police station in Ghazni and fired at FBI agents and military personnel as she was pushed down to the ground. None of the US soldiers or FBI agents was injured, but Dr.Siddiqui was shot. She was charged with attempted murder and assault and other crimes.

To borrow Stephen Lendman, "her trial was a travesty of justice based on the preposterous charge that in the presence of two FBI agents, two Army interpreters, and three US Army officers, she (110 pounds and frail) assaulted three of them, seized one of their rifles, opened fire at close range, hit no one, yet she was severely wounded. No credible evidence was presented. Some was kept secret. The proceedings were carefully orchestrated. Witnesses were either enlisted, pressured, coerced, and/or bought off to cooperate, then jurors were intimidated to convict her."

According to prosecution Siddiqui was arrested by the Afghan police in the town of Ghazni with notes indicating plans to attack the Statue of Liberty and other New York landmarks. However, she was not charged with terrorism but charged only with attempted murder.

During the trial, the prosecution admitted that there were no fingerprints on the gun she was supposed to have wrested from one of the soldiers. No bullets were recovered from the cell.

Early in the case Siddiqui's defense team suggested she was a victim of the "dark side," picked up by Pakistani or U.S. intelligence, but prosecutors insisted they found no evidence she'd ever been illegally detained. By the time of the trial, no mention was made of Siddiqui's whereabouts during her five missing years.

No explanation was given as to why a would-be terrorist would wander around openly with a slew of almost theatrically incriminating materials in her possession.

No questions were raised about the whereabouts of her two missing children, one of whom is a U.S. citizen. (Her daughter Maryam and son Ahmed later recovered from Afghanistan and handed over to Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui.)

By keeping the focus on Ghazni, the prosecution avoided the main issue in Dr. Aafia's case: Where was she from March 2003 to July 2008 when she suddenly appeared in US custody in Afghanistan.

In a new twist to Dr. Aafia's saga, on January 23, 2012, Khurshid Kasuri, former foreign minister of Pakistan under General Musharraf, admitted handing over Dr. Aafia to the US and expressed his regret. In a twitter message he said: "I'm so sorry for handing over the innocent Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to the Americans. It was my biggest mistake ever. Khurshid Kasuri."

Tellingly, General Musharraf admits in his book (In the Line of Fire, page 237) that his government captured and handed over 369 "al Qaeda militants' to the US. He also writes that Pakistanis received "millions of dollars' as prize money from the CIA for capturing those militants.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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