Aafia Being Treated Inhumanely in US Custody: SM Zafar
By SAJID ZIA
LAHORE - Senator SM Zafar has said that Pakistani citizen Dr Aafia Siddiqui in US detention is facing inhumane and undignified treatment. She is in a very bad health after being badly tortured in custody particularly in Afghanistan, he added.
Senator Zafar who met Dr Aafia during his US visit as a member of the Senate team has urged the national and international human rights organisations to take up her case to seek that she should be given normal human treatment available to other inmates in US custody. He said he learnt from the meeting with her that she did not expect fair justice from the US jury. “She is highly disturbed and weak yet she is confident and thankful to Pakistan for taking up her case,” said SM Zafar while talking to The Nation.
Mr Zafar, head of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rigts, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate, Chairman Committee on Interior Senator Talha and Member Foreign Affairs Committee Sadia Abbasi on behalf of the government of Pakistan had met Aafia Siddiqui to find her condition and to examine as to how she could be helped in defending herself and ease her condition on humanitarian grounds.
At the Complex in Dallas, where the Senator held meeting with Dr Aafia, he said, around 1500 to 1600 females inmates were present but Dr Aafia was kept in strict detention separate from others. He said he found Aafia very weak and frail who in the beginning was somewhat reluctant to communicate with them but later “When we told that we are members of the Pakistan Senate and are here to know how can we help her in the case she was facing, she gradually opened up and begun to discuss her condition.”
He said Dr Aafia under strict custody was subject to ‘strip search’ to come out of the cell. This strip search, he said was totally undignified and dehumanising. Aafia, who told she was taken into custody some three years back, wanted to see her relations.
The Senator said that Aafia was much worried about her other two children after a third one had been given back to the custody of his aunt. “She wants support for the recovery of her two children.” He said his committee on its part would take up this matter with the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan government.
Zafar said, “Aafia at present is being led before the jury by advocate Elizabeth Fink, who undoubtedly is a good human rights lawyer, but she actually needs a lawyer expert in dealing with the criminal cases for proper defence of her case.” He said anyone from among the Pakistani lawyers on criminal side in the US could assist her in defending against the charges that she snatched weapon from a GI and tried to kill him.
Senator Zafar said the Pakistan government and the expatriate Pakistanis in America would be the source, who could provide her help, in addition to the assistant by the Senate Committee and the Parliament.
He said, “I understand that the government is taking interest in the matter and is engaged with the US State Department on this count.” However, he said, the government needed to focus on the area where case against Dr Aafia should be withdrawn on the plea that she herself had received serious injuries after one of the GIs had struck her and the bullet had hit her stomach. He said she could not be repatriated to Pakistan unless the case was withdrawn.
He said in New York, their team also discussed the case with advocate Saleem Rizvi, who is one of the members of the lawyers who are defending her, and also talked to the brother of Dr Aafia in Texas.
SOURCE: The Nation dot com dot pk