By Connie Lynn Nash, Special to the Global Report
Asheville Global Report here
Jan. 7- Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is scheduled to appear for her trial in Manhattan on Tuesday morning, January 19th, on charges of assaulting U.S. personnel while being detained in Afghanistan.
To many, Dr. Aafia's life in recent years is considered a riddle while to others, this is mostly because of constant misinformation. Not only are her life and health at stake, but so are the lives of her two youngest children, ages 7 months to 5 years at the time of her being shot, apparently detained or in some other way disappeared by the U.S. - and/or by Pakistan officials - during and after 2003 and for the most part, forgotten. Najma Sadeque, Pakistan-based rights activist and senior journalist, referring to the treatment meted out to Dr. Aafia by U.S. authorities, said "Whatever the truth, it is immaterial. Nothing justifies the depths of sadism that the US government and its lackeys routinely descend to."
Until and unless the US judicial system and the logistics and horror of this 90 pound woman's drawn-out detention bring to bear the most minimum of constitutional and humane protections offered by our supposed democracy -- what else can carry any reasonable weight?
I interviewed the scholar Mr. Khurram Ali Shafique, who recently won the once-every-three-years Allama Iqbal award for his biograpy on this visionary/philosopher who is widely credited with having inspired the founding of Pakistan. I asked about the Pakistani public's part in addressing Musharraf''s cooperation in Siddiqui's mistreatment. Mr. Shafique answered, referring to the sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in March 2007 and the mass protest which followed, eventually leading to the resignation of Musharraf and the restoration of judiciary, stating that "Even at that time I felt that the international media is not explaining it adequately - that this whole contention was closely related to the case of 'missing persons'. Chaudhry had started taking suo moto action on such cases, which is supposed to have resulted in his sacking. The whole people's movement for restoration of judiciary - the movement which eventually became a catalyst for Musharraf's sudden downfall - was charged with this issue."
Shafique pointed out that Dr. Aafia's case became widely publicised in Pakistan in July of 2008, and Musharraf was pressured to resign soon afterward. The two incidents might not be linked so formally, but Shafique says, "I remember asking a leading Pakistani intellectual in those days, 'What should be done about the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui?' and his spontaneous answer was, 'Musharraf should be impeached.'"
Shafique referred to the overthrow of Musharraf as "one of the most people-centered movements of the century . . . in which the masses defended the independent judiciary which was taking action against the government in these cases." He credited the people with starting " a long-reaching process for justice, accountability and fairness", but chastised the U.S. for not doing its part. He recalled how warmly the people of Pakistan welcomed the new Obama regime. "Yet," he asked, "how much change has the new administration actually brought in the official approach towards the case of Aafia Siddiqui?"
I asked Shafique about the possibility that new items might be brought into the coming trial even as mere hints of evidence to back up the apparently ridiculous original charge. His answer was emphatic: "A person is kept under humiliating and uncomfortable conditions of 'maximum security' for two years or so, and then acquitted on the ground that the charge against her was 'concocted' and 'false' in the first place, but just then, instead of setting her free, the judge looks at those same authorities whom he has discredited in this manner, and tells them, 'If you can think of some other charges against her then I shall order her to be sent back for another two years, and then for another two years, and so on, as long as you can keep furnishing newer charges, no matter whether they get proven or not.' Is this a parody of Alice in Wonderland, or what?"
Shafique suggested those new to this case check the build up to the case in the Chronology linked to the sidebard of his blog About Aafia (http://aboutaafia.blogspot.com/).
Finally, I asked, "If you are free to say, where are the unexplored venues in this case that if you were to hire private investigation you would send such an expert?"
I close here with Mr. Shafique's forte: getting back to basics and underneath pseudo-intellectual clutter. His answer: "In my capacity as a lay person, I shall say that counter-allegation and counter-investigation are not my favorite ideas in this case, because they are all various forms of conflict, aren't they? I personally believe that there should be no conflict in this case, because we are all on the same side. If this is a case of common sense rather than anything else, and I believe it very much to be, then I would have expected even George Bush to be on this side, leave alone Barack Obama."