SHC issues notices on petition seeking release of Aafia Siddiqui

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) here Wednesday heard the constitutional petition of the sister of Aafia Siddiqui, leader of Aafia Movement Pakistan and noted neuro physician Dr Fowzia Siddiqui and issued notices to the federation of Pakistan through Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Principal Secretary Prime Minister House; Ministries of Interior Affairs and Human Rights through their respective secretaries, asking them to file their comments by April 16, 2020.

Previous week Dr Fowzia Siddiqui had filed a constitutional petition in the SHC, praying to direct the government of Pakistan to seek urgent release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from a US prison on medical grounds.

In her petition filed through Advocate Irfan Aziz, making the federation of Pakistan through Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Principal Secretary Prime Minister House; Ministries of Interior Affairs and Human Rights through their respective secretaries; and Consul General of US Consulate at Karachi respondents, Dr Fowzia Siddiqui maintained that a US Court illegally, unlawfully tried the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui because Aafia was a Pakistani citizen and she was handed over to USA without any jurisdiction, forcibly and without giving her fair opportunity of trial, and later she was intentionally convicted for 86 years in prison without any justification and lawful reasons.

The petitioner said she ran against these atrocities from pillar to post to create as tired on every available forum to seek freedom of Dr Aafia who is detained in Prison called FMC Carswell, Fort Worth Texas in USA. She said that the USA distorted all the norms and international charters in case of Aafia, who is currently kept in horrific conditions in their Federal prison, where vindictive guards and administrators miss no opportunity to harass and humiliate her, often using her religious convictions as a convenient target. Even when she was allowed to visit a family member, the harsh strip searches employed makes any visitor feel like a party to a forced rape. The counselor report from the counsel general of Pakistan 2019 is testament to this. She has no contact with her family for over 3 years now, whereas the prison manual allows phone call, video calls and visitation but Aafia is denied all basic rights.

The petitioner said she believes that Aafia is being kept under duress and coerced into actions, without giving any break and also being meted out severe physical and mental tortures which are beyond human imagination. The petitioner regretted that the government of Pakistan has not raised tangible concerns with the American Government for not providing any basic health facilities including medical aid, proper foods and physical exercise to Aafia and no steps are taken to protect her from physical and sexual assault and religious harassment.

The petitioner said that presently the whole world is facing Corona pandemic without any cure and medicine. Recent reports on CNN are stating that there is an outbreak of corona in American prisons and there are no preventive or precautionary measures. Hundreds of deaths are expected from this disease. The petitioner, her family and whole Pakistani nation is deeply disturbed by this news as the daughter of the nation is at a major risk to her life.

Dr Fowzia Siddiqui further maintained that the Constitution of Pakistan enshrines that each and every citizen of Pakistan is entitled for life, liberty, health and fair trial and should be treated in accordance with law, which is not the case herein. The petitioner prayed to direct the  respondents to discharge their lawful duty assigned to them by Constitution and International Charters and Treaties and contact the US Government to provide proof of wellbeing by live video call with family and submit the health report of Dr Aafia which is her Fundamental, basic and constitutional rights.

She prayed to direct the respondents to use their prerogative and submit request before the US Government for the release of Dr Aafia as the Pakistani government has released PML-N leader Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on purely medical ground after awarding conviction by the Courts of law and also released PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari on medical grounds.

She also prayed direct the Pakistan government to contact the US government to bureau of Prisons to provide proof of well being of Dr Aafia by live video calls with family as per prison manifesto and to get complete details from the US Government about the health facilities and the details of the treatment being provided to Aafia during this solitary confinement and submit such detailed and comprehensive report before this Hon’ble Court.

She further prayed to also direct the government immediately convey US Government to provide medical help and Corona Virus prevention measures to Dr Aafia which is her basic and fundamental right or as alternative release her immedtaily and handover her to the Pakistan Embassy in USA for her safe reaching to her home at Karachi, Pakistan.

On Wednesday the honorable court heard the petition and directed to issue notices to all respondents saving the US consul general for filing their replies by April 16 and adjourned the hearing.

Talking to media outside the court premises, Dr Fowzia Siddiqui said that Aafia family is worried about the life and health of Aafia. She said that corona virus has already spread in American jails and release of many prisoners is expected. She said a lot of other countries are also releasing their prisoners. She said Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a political prisoner and the government of Pakistan must play its due role for seeking her early release.

She said the family does not have any telephone contact with Aafia for a long time, despite as per American jail prison manual, prisoners are allowed to have telephonic contacts with their families. She said the Pakistani rulers called Aafia ‘daughter of the nation’, but they are not taking interest to get mitigated the sufferings of Aafia and her family.