Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Aafia Convicted: The Value of a Human Life

Posted here 10 PM ET Wednesday - posted in Pakistan Thursday, February 4, 2010

Although I had planned to write a brief summary of the trial - no matter the outcome - when the verdict came, I was quite unexpectedly stunned until now, nearly 10 PM EST. To those to whom I promised the summary by now, please read or reread this one and look for my first attempt pretty soon.

The following article was just written by Khurram Ali Shafique Sahib, an historian-biographer, teacher of teachers and much more. Find the originally posting on
About Aafia - here

Aafia Convicted: The Value of a Human Life

By Khurram Ali Shafique

Dr. Aaafia Siddiqui has been convicted, and the sentence may send her to prison for life. If the decision is not reversed in the appeal, Pakistan loses a human being but America loses the value of a human being. For one, the pain would be greater and for the other, the loss.

On forums like Facebook, it is being declared a sad day. In Pakistan, the day has not arisen as yet. Let's hope that it is a peaceful day and the nation lives up to the ideal of abiding by the law, given to it by its founding father. Perhaps it would help to understand the reason of what hurts in this case. It would be ridiculous to dismiss the feelings of the agrieved as mere sentiment. Perhaps a better understanding will be in the interest of everyone, and here is a recap of points elaborated in the report Don't Blame the Victim, released from People's Resistance forum in late 2008. See sidebar on original site here

The basic stance was that in this case, a victim had been turned into the accused. There was not one allegation but four, and it may have been better if they had been addressed in the order in which they had appeared:

First allegation was brought against Aafia, long, long, long ago by US authorities that she had links with Al-Qaeda. This was never pursued by the US authorities.

Second allegation was by international human rights group, prior to July 17, 2008, that Aafia was being held in secret prison, was abducted and tortured, and that he children had been abducted. This needed to be addressed before moving on. This allegation was against the US and allied authorities, and the most serious of all because two of those children are still missing, and could be dead.

Third allegation was by US authorities that on July 17, 2008, Aafia was found to be in possession of some objectionable and dangerous material. This was, again, not brought up, so it can be dropped. But it was a counter-allegation by the "accused", which in this case was US authorities (and Afghan and Pakistani authorities too - i do not want to sound as if I am ignoring their alleged role in this matter, but since US authorities ended up having custody of the victim, the focus naturally shifts to them)

The fourth allegation was by US authorities that she fired at some US soldiers, etc. while she was being interrogated, after her alleged arrest in the event of #3. This is the only allegation on which Aafia has been tried. Hardly in order.

There should be no violence. Rather, there should not even be the thought of violence. The way to avoid violent thoughts is to understand where we stand and to focus on the moral victories we have won recently. We are far from perfect, like everyone else. But like other decent nations, we too have set some golden precedents for the 21st Century: just last year the people of Pakistan won a heroic struggle for the restoration of judiciary. We may have made mistakes in the past but this is a new century and we seem to have arrived here before many others. Let's keep peace for the sake of living up to our better traditions, and leaving behind our worst.

We can also hope that the case has not been closed. Appeal can be made, and perhaps our own government can spring into action to use better diplomatic skills. Also remains, still unsolved, the question about two of the children of Aafia, who were said to have been abducted with her.

To see the website on which this blogsite is only a portion, G0 here

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