Current Affairs

Afia set to appear in US court-Govt to ensure dispensation of justice

New YORK: Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani neuro-scientist, who is under US detention, is set to appear in a federal court in New York City for her bail hearing on Monday (around 00:30 hours PST). Ms. Siddiqui was charged in the United States District Court on Tuesday with attempted murder of US officers in Afghanistan, in a case that her lawyer promptly rejected as “absurd”.

Two Pakistani diplomats met with her in the Brooklyn detention centre after Washington acceded to a request for consular access made by Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani. The 36-year-old mother of three children requested a fair trial, respect for her rights as a prisoner, medical treatment, a copy of the holy Quran and halal food.

The diplomats said that they promised Ms. Siddiqui all possible assistance. Ms. Siddiqui, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University, was transferred to New York last Monday from Afghanistan where she was arrested. Her lawyer, Elizabeth Fink, calling the charges “absurd”, asked the judge that he dismiss the charges immediately. Judge Ronald Ellis of United States District Court said he saw “no reason to doubt the information” in the complaint, and set a hearing for bail on August 11 and also scheduled a preliminary hearing on August 19, when the judge will decide whether there is sufficient ground to hold a trial.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi assured the National Assembly on Monday that the government would take every possible step to ensure dispensation of justice to Pakistani national Dr. Aafia Siddiqui currently under trial in New York. Responding to a point of order raised by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, he said Pakistan has asked the United States to ensure adequate and proper medical facility to the detained lady who is injured.

Pakistan has also asked the United States to provide her halal food, the Holy Quran and facilities for offering of prayers. The Foreign Minister said the first priority of the government was to ensure her wellbeing and according to information gathered by our Embassy in Washington, he is out of danger.

He said Pakistan would pursue her case with a view to seek her early repatriation to Pakistan. Earlier, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Engineer Ameer Muqam and several other members strongly condemned the inhuman treatment meted out to Dr. Aafia under US detention and demanded of the government to take up the issue at all levels with the United States to secure her immediate release. They also proposed that a panel of lawyers from Pakistan should be sent to the United States to defend her in the court.-SANA

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Noreen Gill

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