Lahore, September 24: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed dismay at the unusually harsh punishment awarded to Dr Aafia Siddiqui by a US court and demanded that the governments of Pakistan and the United States urgently find a way to repatriate Dr Aafia to Pakistan.
A statement issued by the Commission on Friday said: “It is not for HRCP to cast aspersions on American justice system. It is for the US government to assess the impact of the unusually harsh punishment awarded to Dr Aafia Siddiqui, particularly in view of the absence of direct and credible evidence against her. It must also not be forgotten that Dr Aafia was picked up more than seven years ago and has already suffered much more than even those guilty of heinous crimes usually have to face. The reaction to the US court’s verdict in Pakistan is not difficult to appreciate.
We fear that the verdict will be misunderstood in Pakistan and bring relations between the two allies in the war on terror under increased strain. HRCP appeals to the governments of Pakistan and the United States to urgently find a way out by negotiating Dr Aafia’s repatriation to Pakistan on humanitarian grounds, irrespective of the legal technicalities involved. The humanitarian principles that inspire this request are the same that have quite often been invoked by US leaders to secure the release of their nationals convicted in foreign lands. At the same time, HRCP would like to appeal to leaders of public opinion in Pakistan to conduct their protests against the verdict in a peaceful and responsible manner and stand firmly by the aggrieved family, without trying to make political capital out of their grief and suffering.”
Dr Mehdi Hasan