PML-N’s govt to ‘engage’ US authorities for Aafia Siddiqui’s return

PML-N’s govt to ‘engage’ US authorities for Aafia Siddiqui’s return

Members of the Aafia Movement are holding a protest demonstration against the detention of Dr Aafia Siddiqui by US authorities on the occasion of Iqbal Day held at Karachi press club on November 09, 2022. — PPI
  • Dar says he held three meetings with Blinken but to no avail.
  • US to be requested to shift Siddiqui to Pakistan, says Dar.
  • JI senator suggested political options regarding Siddiqui’s return.

ISLAMABAD: Senator Ishaq Dar said Thursday that the new government led by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will engage the US authorities once again for the return of Aafia Siddique — a Pakistani neuroscientist languishing in American jail for over a decade.

Dar, in his address to the Senate, said that the PML-N government in, 2013, had interactions with US officials and the then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif made a request in the White House, but unfortunately, it was not accepted.

“I had 3 detailed meetings with Antony Blinken [secretary of state] and I put all my efforts for the return of our daughter to Pakistan and gave many solutions but, unfortunately, nothing happened,” the senator said.

Dar said that this issue would be the priority agenda of the new cabinet and all efforts would be made to engage the US administration afresh on this issue.

He said her sentence can be served in Pakistan also and the US administration will be requested to shift her to Pakistan.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad said that after his return to the country from the US, he suggested four political options regarding Siddiqui’s return to Pakistan.

He also expressed a desire to present the same letter containing four political options to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar to provide solutions to ensure the release of Afia Siddiqui.

Who is Dr Aafia Siddiqui?

A US-educated Pakistani scientist, Dr Aafia Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 for 86 years by a New York federal district court on charges of attempted murder and assault, stemming from an incident during an interview with the US authorities in Ghazni, Afghanistan — charges that she denied.

She was the first woman to be suspected of Al-Qaeda links by the US, but never convicted of it.

At 18 years old Siddiqui travelled to the US, where her brother lived, to study at Boston’s prestigious MIT, later earning a PhD in neuroscience at Brandeis University.

But after the 9/11 terror attacks of 2001, she came up on the FBI’s radar for donations to Islamic organisations and was linked to the purchase of $10,000 worth of night-vision goggles and books on warfare.

The US suspected she joined Al-Qaeda from America, returning to Pakistan where she married into the family of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed –- an architect of the 9/11 attacks.

She disappeared in around 2003, along with her three children, in Karachi.

Five years later she turned up in Pakistan’s war-torn neighbour Afghanistan, where she was arrested by local forces in the restive southeastern province of Ghazni.

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