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Aafia will just not go away


From OnLine Journal

Link to Full Article here


Commentary By Ridwan Sheikh
Online Journal Guest Writer

Feb 26, 2010, 00:42


While Aafia Siddiqui awaits sentencing on May 6, with the prospect of facing a maximum of 20-year term in prison, the case that rattled the US is far from closed.

Although, the Pakistani government paid $2 million dollars to Aafia Siddiqui’s legal defence team, behind the scenes it’s a different matter. The truth is the joint involvement of the Pakistani, US and Afghan governments have yet to answer some simple questions. How did she end up in the police compound in Afghanistan? Who knew about it? And who is responsible for her missing children?

Following the guilty verdict, one of Aafia Siddiqui’s defense attorneys, Elaine Sharp, broke her silence, “Aafia Siddiqui told us that she was picked up by Pakistani men in two black cars. These were people of Pakistani intelligence. ‘You know’ she said ‘ISI.’”

However, Abdul Basit, a spokesman for the Pakistani foreign ministry, insisted it has the welfare of Aafia Siddiqui at heart and the “ultimate objective is to get her back to Pakistan and we will do everything possible and we’ll apply all possible tools in this regard.”

But at a press conference in Karachi, given by, Fauzia, the sister of Aafia Siddiqui, boldly confirmed what many had feared….

… In a recent statement written to the Pakistani newspaper, The Nation, Fauzia Siddiqui lifted the lid on what really happened: “At first, the government had shown its complete ignorance regarding Aafia’s abduction but in the background meetings with members of her family, top Pakistani leaders and the then interior minister, Faisal Saleh Hayat, gave assurances for her early recovery on the condition that there would be no protest against the government and then president Pervez Musharraf.

….An investigating officer, Shahid Qureshi, submitted a report to the judicial magistrate on charges related to the 2003 kidnapping of Aafia Siddiqui and her children, stating that it was carried out “by FBI intelligence agents without any warrants or notice.”

It is not unusual for Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), agency, to collaborate in forcibly abducting its citizens from Pakistan to secret US prisons, where unspeakable torture awaits them, all under the guise of the US government’s ‘war on terror,’ in exchange for cash from the FBI…

…The truth is Aafia Siddiqui’s tragic ordeal didn’t begin in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan. Human rights groups believe in March 2003 Aafia Siddiqui and her three children were on their way to Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, to board a flight heading to Islamabad, when Pakistani intelligence agents cut short their car journey and nabbed the family. They later handed the family to Afghan officials, where under the noses of FBI and US military officials, Aafia Siddiqui, was secretly abducted to the US Bagram air base in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she was held for more than five years and subjected to torture and unspeakable abuse….

…. Indeed, in December 2009, the Asian Human Rights commission called for Colonel Hamza of the ISI to be prosecuted for the abduction, illegal detention and torture of young men from Pakistani Kashmir, held in Bala Hisar fort near Peshawar, Pakistan.

It is believed Colonel Hamza and other officials in his charge, physically abused these men and warned them not to tell anyone about their illegal detention otherwise they would face serious consequences….

…. It makes you wonder, that If the ISI can abduct British and US nationals and residents to secret locations in Afghanistan and torture them, with the knowledge of Western governments, then the ISI wouldn’t have any trouble in widening their license to subject their own citizens to the same treatment. .

What is clear is the US government refuses to acknowledge or discuss highly questionable practices in secret detention sites, such as rendition, torture and widespread abuse. But it is the fate of hundreds of prisoners that has left a deep imprint on the US government and serves as a symbol of distrust to the rest of the world….

… Since US media outlets, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, ran exposes in November 2009 of illegal activities in Bagram, the rest of the media are pretty much silent, instead preferring to churn out puff pieces on the lifestyle of the US president and his family. But what about Aafia Siddiqui’s family and the mystery surrounding her missing children? Isn’t this considered news? Then again, to Western eyes at least, it’s not ‘glamorous’ enough.


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