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AAFIA MOVEMENT

COME CLEAN, THERE IS STILL TIME

13 Apr, 2010

 

By Kamran Shafi
It’s official: according to none other than this journal of record, the 12-year old child “left outside a house in Karachi [on Sunday, April 4, 2008] is the missing daughter of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the neuroscientist who was convicted in a US court for shooting at her US interrogators in Afghanistan.”

The child was left at Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s house by an American the child referred to as ‘Uncle John’ and who has since disappeared into thin air.

I have long held that Dr Siddiqui’s case was/is a very curious one indeed. Let us recap from the time that she disappeared from Karachi in the company of her three children in March 2003 until the time (July 17, 2008) that she was found loitering outside the Ghazni governor’s compound in Afghanistan in the company of a young lad said to be her son and both were taken into custody by the Afghan police.

She was alleged to be carrying inflammable materials and maps of potential targets in the United States “in jars” in her handbag. How big these ‘jars’ were, and how many kilogrammes of explosives were being transported in them was not mentioned to astounded readers.

We were not told either what in the world Dr Siddiqui was doing in Ghazni, Afghanistan, right outside the governor’s compound and under the very noses of American and Afghan forces and police. I wrote at the time that mayhap she had gone to Ghazni to catch the United Airlines early evening flight to JFK.

We were also informed that the next day, Dr Siddiqui had been shot in the abdomen “at least once” by an American soldier in self-defence after coming under fire from Dr Siddiqui who had come rushing out from behind a curtain where she was being held “unrestrained” for questioning, and picking up an M4 service rifle that had been left “at his feet” by an American warrant officer, had fired at him. And that but for the timely deflection of her shot by an Afghan interpreter she should have killed the American.

Whilst her son was arrested with her in Ghazni we were also told in a letter penned to the press by the US ambassador to Pakistan H.E. Anne Patterson that the American authorities had absolutely no idea about what had happened to her three children who had disappeared with her in March 2003. And now this young child turns up at her grandparents home in Karachi in the company of ‘Uncle John’. Curiouser and curiouser.

This story was beyond belief then, it is beyond belief now. It defied credibility then, it defies credibility now. There are holes the size of the Titanic in this ‘official’ version of events and at the time that this seeming poppycock was being rolled out, I had written a riposte to the US ambassador’s letter on several aspects.

For example as someone who has handled small arms as a soldier in the infantry; has taught them, and therefore has fired thousands of rounds from all types of small arms, I couldn’t for the life of me imagine even a first-class shooter pick up a rifle he/she did not know, cock it, find the safety catch and flip it, and fire it in under the three seconds that it probably took the alleged Afghan translator to allegedly lunge at Siddiqui and allegedly deflect her alleged shot.

I also asked why Siddiqui had been shot at after she had been overpowered by the Afghan translator and had probably been well and truly subdued, for she is no Samson.

To prove the point that it was highly unlikely for this frail woman to do what she was alleged to have done, I suggested to the ambassador who seems to have the same dimensions as Dr Siddiqui to get one of her Marines at the embassy to place a loaded M4 service rifle (on ‘safe’ as is the standard operating procedure) on the ground near her. She should then pick it up, cock it, flip the safety catch and fire it. I had suggested that she may well fail to even cock the seven-pound heavy rifle in 10 seconds, let alone fire it in three.

I had reminded the ambassador of the embarrassment, nay disgrace, his handlers brought her former boss, the good Gen Colin Powell, when they made him tell white lies on live TV about Iraq’s so-called weapons of mass destruction.

I had said that whilst America had its Sarah ‘Barracuda’ Palins also, who can shoot and skin (and eat?) a moose in under 17 minutes, what we Pakistanis must do is to pray with all our might that Barack Obama and Joe Biden beat the living daylights out of McCain and the Barracuda. And that we are rid of the neocon madmen and women who not only hold America the Beautiful by the jugular, but the rest of the world by the throat too.

Well, friends, we are rid of the mindless ‘Dubya’ and his keepers; the intelligent and compassionate Barack Obama is now the president of the mightiest country on the face of the planet. Now then Excellency, who is this Maryam girl; and who is her Uncle John? And where is Dr Siddiqui’s third child please?

As I have said earlier, if some foolish official has messed up on the Afia Siddiqui case please do not exacerbate the matter by covering up for him/her and bringing America the Beautiful into more disrepute. Tell the whole truth even now; put the matter right even now. Dr Afia Siddiqui is accused of crimes ranging from buying blood diamonds to planning terrorist attacks to being the vilest person on earth. Yet, she was charged in court with what can only be called an impossible crime.

Please act now, if only for the reason that America is home to some of the kindest hearted and generous and warm and disarmingly simple people anywhere on this planet.

 

April 25, 2010

OPINION

THE PPP-led government has been evading Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s issue as if it was fearful of the US. However, the-God fearing people from within the country and the world over have been making their voices heard, strongly condemning the US highhandedness and its imperialist agenda for the Muslim world that demonised an innocent woman as a terrorist as part of its vilification campaign against Islam. The sight of civil society members in Lahore on Friday protesting against her imprisonment was reassuring in that it provided some hope that Dr Aafia would soon make it to freedom. Apart from the demonic way, the entire drama leading to her arrest was fabricated against her leading to a sham trail that only made a travesty of justice, the torture she has suffered at the hands of the FBI reflects poorly on the state of democracy in the USA. More importantly, it lays bare the truth behind the American penal system.
But while this collective voice of the public is undoubtedly a ray of hope, it is a matter of grave concern that Islamabad is not playing its part. In the face of popular anger, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira’s remark that the government may not demand her release shows that the rulers do not care a fig about the people and their suffering. The government must realise that its paramount duty is to ensure the safety of its citizens. Failing to come to her rescue at a time when the people are all rage at the shameless act by the US will further destroy its reputation as a representative government.

April 14, 2010

EDITORIAL

A BLATANT OUTRAGE!
TO abduct a five-year old girl and subject her to torture and the most inhuman treatment, just because her mother is accused of a certain crime, is heinous child abuse, a violation of international law; it reeks of a most ignoble form of vengeance, and constitutes an affront to human decency. That’s what has been, for seven long years, the fate for Maryam Siddiqui, the daughter of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was left outside the house of Dr Fauzia, Dr Aafia’s sister, by “unidentified persons” at Karachi a couple of days back. Maryam was indoctrinated by her captives to call herself Fatima but the DNA test leaves little room for doubt that she was, indeed, Dr Aafia-Dr Amjad Khan’s daughter. Kept in a dark room in solitary confinement, she is unable to stand the broad daylight. Once the public outcry against her disappearance has seen her release, even the most naïve can see that the girl, now 12, stands traumatised.

Heading the criminal band of perpetrators was the superpower US, the indefatigable champion of human rights: two other governments, Pakistan and Afghanistan, whom the official moralists at Washington never tire of blaming for human rights violations, were complicit in the crime. Nothing could be more hypocritical and shameful. Rather
than adopting all available means to get the custody of Dr Aafia and her children, even resorting to cutting off the supply line of US and NATO forces, as urged by Senator Talha Mahmood, Chairman Standing Committee on Interior, the Pakistan government chose to cooperate with the US Administration in this blatant act of outrage.

Pakistan’s complicity is also evident from the child’s removal from Pakistan to Afghanistan way back in 2003 and now her sudden reappearance in Karachi. Neither of the acts could have been committed without the clear knowledge and cooperation of our intelligence agencies. Afghanistan’s dirty role comes out not only in the fact that
she was kept at Bagram airbase, but also from President Karzai’s admission, while he was last at Islamabad, that the children were in his country.

No less chilling is the story of Dr Aafia herself. Her agony is not merely the ordeal, physical as well as moral, she is going through but the suffering, unknown to her, that her minor missing children might have had to bear. One of them, a son, was released last year, but another, also a son, still continues to be missing. Prime Minister Gilani, at present in Washington, is supposed to be meeting President Obama. He must strongly demand their immediate release before Dr Aafia is awarded any punishment.

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