ISLAMABAD - As Pakistan and the United States are struggling to rebuild their trustworthy relations, Islamabad has recently raised once again Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s case with Washington.

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Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a neuroscientist and Pakistani citizen is currently imprisoned in the United States after a court in New York had sentenced Dr Aafia to unprecedented 86 years in prison on September 23, 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault on US personnel.

Her case has been called a “flashpoint of Pakistani-American tensions”, and “one of the most mysterious in a secret war dense with mysteries”.

In Pakistan her arrest and conviction was seen by the public as farce based on trumped up allegations to malign Islam and Muslims, and occasioned large protests throughout the country.

Pakistani news media called her trial a “farce”, while other Pakistanis labelled this reaction “knee-jerk Pakistani nationalism”.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister at that time Yousaf Raza Gilani, and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, had promised to push for her release but did not succeed.

So what actually was the significant development that prompted Islamabad to take up Dr Aafia’s tragic case with the US top diplomat for South and Central Asia ambassador Alice Wells during her visit to Pakistan last week?

Or, are the US and Pakistan in search of a common ground as reflected in the rumour mills on the social media about her swapping with high profile prisoner Dr Shakeel Afridi?

Some senior government officials claim that Islamabad had sought from Washington to ensure that human and legal rights of Dr Aafia Siddiqui are respected and Ambassador Wells promised to look into Pakistan’s request.

The spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs in his statement said that Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston pays consular visits to Dr Siddiqui, periodically, to inquire about her wellbeing and conveys her messages to Dr Aafia’s family if any.”

Sources in the Foreign Office maintained that Dr Aafia Siqqidui has been recently making complaints to the US authorities about the inhuman treatment she was being meted out in the prison.

During a press talk at his home district Multan on Thursday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was asked a question about prospects of bringing the imprisoned Dr Aafia to Pakistan, he said PTI government will ‘definitely try’.

“The government wishes to see a decline in the “difficulties” faced by Dr Aafia Siddiqui at her prison at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas,” Qureshi underlined.

The minister said Aafia’s sister, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, had wanted to meet him and she was given a date for the purpose. However, the meeting could not take place due to her personal engagements.

“I will [now] meet her next week and hear her out. I will help her in whatever way I can within the limits of the law,” Qureshi said.

Efforts made by some civil society organisations in Pakistan seeking judicial relief for Dr Aafia in her conviction failed to bear fruits on one pretext or other.

On the other hand, legal experts in Pakistan cite complexities in laws in the United States and those practised in Pakistan causing hindrances in seeking a judicial relief for Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

They opined the best course to bring back Dr Siddiqui to Pakistan in the prevailing conditions is that her conviction is pardoned by the US president.

Downplaying the prospect of any prisoner swap deal they argued that Pakistan has its own concerns regarding release of Dr Shakeel Afridi because of breach of its national security and it might not compromise even if the United States so desired.