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Dr. Fowzia Siddique meets Nelson Mandela’s confidante

Azhar Vadi

24 February 2012

Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui had the opportunity to meet one of South Africa’s greatest anti-Apartheid struggle heroes as she was hosted by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on Thursday evening, 23 February 2012.

The meeting saw approximately 30 different faith based groups, non-governmental organisations and activist bodies gather to hear Dr. Fowzia’s explanation of what happened to her sister, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui after her kidnap, disappearance and rendition to the United States.

Ahmed Kathrada has dedicated his life to the principle of non-racialism and equality and is a veteran of the South African liberation struggle. He spent 26 years as a political prisoner on the notorious Robben Island prison as well as the Pollsmoor Maximum Prison. He is a close friend and confidante of South African icon and hero, Mr. Nelson Mandela.

Kathrada has been a long standing member of the African National Congress (ANC), a member of the South African Parliament and an adviser to Mandela during his presidency (1994-1995). He is a highly respected senior of South African politics.

Dr. Siddique started her address by paying tribute to Mr. Kathrada. “I really don’t have the words and I’m overwhelmed with emotions to be sitting next to the person who I consider to be one of the greatest human rights activists and my source of inspiration. This is the person along with Nelson Mandela, who gave me the courage to come and speak for a cause. To speak for justice, peace and freedom,” she told the crowd. 

Her narration of events that led to Aafia’s eventual sentencing in the US to 86 years in jail left many of those who attended amazed and baffled. Mr. Koki Singh, a representative of the South African Hindu community said, “My heart goes out you and thank you for sharing your story with us.” He also wanted to know if the South African government and other active South African politicians had been lobbied.

Channel Islam International’s, Inayet Wadee, responded by saying that they had contacted South Africa’s International Relations Department and discussions were underway.

Fowzia was hosted in South Africa by the satellite radio broadcaster.

Another member of the crowd requested information on the role of the Pakistani government and how they have assisted so far.

Dr. Fowzia said, “There are so many misconceptions around the issue of Dr. Aafia that the actual facts get covered. But now I can clarify because we have facts with us…This was an awareness tour to get people to raise their voices along with me. The Pakistani government has helped us recover two of Aafia’s children.”

Mr. Kathrada thanked Dr. Fowzia for coming to South Africa. The foundation will now take an in depth look at the issue of Aafia Siddiqui before issuing a formal statement on the matter.

Dr. Fowzia was scheduled to return to Pakistan on Friday, 24 February 2012, ending her first public tour outside of Pakistan to create an awareness of her sister’s plight.

As she departed she expressed her intense desire to once again return to the country. She thanked all those who attended her programmes and made her feel so welcomed.

“You have promised that you will raise your voice for Aafia. I want you to keep that promise. Also please forgive me for my human shortcomings. I meant to hurt nobody and make nobody cry. I hope to meet you all again. I have lost one sister and in return have got so many thousands of brothers and sisters,” she said as she departed.


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