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AAFIA MOVEMENT

"Dr. Aafia Siddiqui could be back in Pakistan in 2 days," US Senator Gravel

Pakistani-Americans call for deep probe into Kamran Faisal's mysterious death

 

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF) has called for deep probe into the mysterious death or probable murder of Kamran Faisal, an officer of Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The call came at the conclusion of a PADF "Teach-In" held Saturday (Jan 27, 2013) under the chairmanship of Dr. Agha Saeed, the PADF founder.

The PADF teach-in was attended, among others, by former US presidential candidate Senator Mike Gravel and six-term former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney both of whom visited Pakistan last year to support Release Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Movement. The meeting was also attended by Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi, President San Jose University; Jawed Khan, a prominent community leader and Syed Basharat Ali, President of Pakistan Community Association of Greater New Orleans.

Saleem Akhtar, the Executive Director of the PADF, briefed the gathering about the mysterious death of Kamran Faisal who was found dead in his apartment on January 18.

Kamran was probing high-profile US$5 billion rental power projects (RPPs) scam and the 16 accused included Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf against whom the Supreme Court had issued arrest orders to the NAB just days before the ill-fated investigator was found dead.

Interestingly, police has accused the NAB high-ups of destroying evidence from the crime scene by intruding into Faisal’s room and keeping it in their possession for two hours before police reached there. “During the first two hours all belongings of the victim were under custody of NAB officials who did not call police. They unintentionally destroyed the evidence by moving here and there,” the police said.

It may be recalled, the Supreme Court in a ruling last March declared RPPs as illegal and ordered the related plants to be shut down. The court said in its verdict that numerous rules and regulations were violated in these projects, such as the provision of 7% to 14% down payments, which caused losses to the public exchequer running into the billions of rupees. It was the court that directed the NAB to investigate the case and the alleged involvement of Prime Minister Raja Parvaiz Ashraf.

Faisal's suspicious death exposes the pressures and dangers investigators face in working on high-profile graft cases in the current political climate in Pakistan. It also sends a powerful message to all officers investigating corruption scandals involving the authorities.

After Saleem Akhtar's briefing on the mysterious death of Kamran Faisal the PADF passed a resolution calling on the government of Pakistan to hold extensive investigation into the whole affair.

The PADF has scheduled teach-ins and vigils in Washington, D. C., Chicago, New York, and Texas over the next few days.

The PADF was established in 1982 as a grassroots organization to work for restoration of democratic movement in Pakistan.

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"Dr. Aafia Siddiqui could be back in Pakistan in 2 days," US Senator Gravel

The second part of the teach-in was focused on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's plight,

The former US Senator Mike Gravel suggested that the American Muslim civil advocacy groups should approach the nominated Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel and Secretary of State John Kerry to secure release of Dr. Aafia who is serving 86-year imprisonment for her alleged attempt to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Senator Gravel said that the American Muslim groups should begin a intensive efforts for Dr. Aafia's release. He suggested that to put pressure on the US administration the Muslim groups should pass resolutions in this regard to be sent to Hegel and Kerry. He will draft a sample resolution to be sent to the Muslim groups for their approval.

The former Senator lamented that not enough pressure is built in Pakistan to compel the government to secure Dr. Aafia's release. He said that it was the government of Pakistan which is reluctant to approach the US administration.

He said that the Tehrik-e-Insaaf leader Imran Khan has pledged to work for Dr. Aafia's release if his party comes to power in the forthcoming elections. However, he did not make Dr. Aafia an issue in his election campaign.

Senator Gravel suggested that the former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khurshid Kasuri should also be approached since he acknowledged that he is responsible for handing over Dr. Aafia to the US. "I'm so sorry for handing over the innocent Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to the Americans. It was my biggest mistake ever! " Khurshid Kasuri said in a twitter message in January 2012.

While visiting Pakistan last year, Mark Gravel said that he have never saw such a case in his career like Dr. Aafia Siddiqui who is innocent Pakistan citizen facing physical and mental torture from last 10 years in America.

Both the Government of Pakistan and United States were responsible of Dr. Aafia case, he said adding that if the Pakistani Government takes serious and practical steps, Dr. Aafia can be "back in 2 days". 

Talking to media before leaving Pakistan for the US, Senator Gravel urged the Pakistani leadership to take action for the release of Dr Aafia. He stressed that Dr Aafia was a Pakistani citizen and that the US government’s rendition of Dr Aafia from Afghanistan to the US is illegal under international law.

“Dr Siddiqui is not a US citizen, so the US government should not be left to determine her fate, she should be returned to Pakistan so that she can begin to recover from the horrible torture and abuse that she has suffered,” said Senator Gravel.

Another participant of the PADF meeting was the former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney who also visited Pakistan last year. Tellingly she was detained briefly at Atlanta airport while entering the United States on her return from the visit to Pakistan where she campaigned for the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

Addressing a Press Conference in the Islamabad, Cynthia McKinney said "I am here for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. When I first learned of her situation I decided to do all that I could do to reverse the injustice to this poor innocent woman. The United States has more to give Pakistan than drones, bombs and missiles. The United States can give Aafia back. The Pakistan Leadership just has to ask."

Pakistan American Democratic Forum, PADF, was the main initiator of American human right activists' visit to Pakistan.

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