ISLAMABAD - Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, sister of detained Dr Aafia Siddiqui, on Monday moved an application to the Supreme Court requesting it to direct the government to declare a moratorium on prisoners’ transfer to the US unless the detained Pakistani is sent back.

The petition filed under Article 184 (3) also sought implementation on top court’s May 20, 2010 directives and formulation of comprehensive policy to protect the fundamental rights of Pakistani prisoners detained abroad.

On May 20, 2010, the top court directed the federal government to make vigorous efforts and arrangements to provide all necessary assistance (including legal aid and payment of fines) for securing the release and repatriation of the Pakistani nationals detained/imprisoned abroad.

It had also directed that a special cell be established at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and a special inter-ministerial committee at joint secretary level to deal with such issues on most expeditious basis.

Advocate Dawood Ghaznavi, on behalf of Dr Fowzia, filed the petition making the federal government, the Ministry of Interior, the MoFA, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, the Overseas Pakistani Foundation, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed and former envoy to US Hussain Haqqani as respondents.

“Every time, the US takes or demands its murderers and spies and mercenaries, the government of Pakistan makes some way to release them while the daughter of the nation (Aafia) remains in illegal custody and has deeply damaged the morale of the entire nation, and shaken faith of the people of Pakistan in these institutions,” the petition said.

The petition said that Aafia Siddiqui was taken to the US with the knowledge of the then government of Pakistan who failed to provide her councillor assistance while she was in Afghanistan. She was never provided any assistance from Pakistan during her illegal abduction and transfer to the US.

“She has been illegally extradited without an opportunity of notice and an opportunity to be heard to contest the extradition or illegal rendition, without a lawyer or a private investigation and without the right to cross-examine accusers, or to be heard by the fair and impartial tribunal.”

The petition mentioned that in 2008, British Journalist Yvonne Ridley along with the PTI chief made the first ever press conference in Islamabad explaining the whereabouts and illegal detention of Dr Aafia in Bagram Prison by US authorities and explained the torture tale stories she had faced.

It is further said that the government, subdued by public pressure, decided to contest Dr Aafia’s case in the New York District Court and that then ambassador Hussain Haqqani sought USD2 million to engage three private counsels namely Charles Swift, Linda Moreno and Elaine Sharp to contest the case.

All counsels were paid 50,000 dollars each. The lawyers Charles Swift and Linda Moreno remained hostile towards the family and only answered to Haqqani. Dr Aafia was never happy with the lawyers and in fact, she expressed dissatisfaction over them in the open court,” the petition stated adding that Dr Aafia was not provided lawyer of her choice afterward.

“This was the first and only time she was provided legal help from the government of Pakistan,” the petition read, adding that she was still in illegal custody in the US, a political prisoner of conscience and subjected to regular abuse and what appears to be psychological torture and was kept in a small solitary room with 24 hr surveillance.

The petition said that the government instead of complying with the directions to formulate a comprehensive policy only drafted ‘Guidelines for Streamlining the Institutional Mechanism on Securing Release and Repatriation of Pakistanis Detained/Imprisoned Abroad’ which have no force of law and just an artificial cover.

“The number of Pakistanis detained in foreign jails is thousands in number especially in the Middle East, and are in deplorable condition due to non-assistance and lack of concern of Pakistani missions and consulates. Dr Aafia Siddiqui like many other imprisoned Muslims abroad is treated with brutality and without mental or physical respect,” the petition said.

“It is the legal duty of the Pakistani missions and consulates to provide protection, help, assistance, safeguarding the interest of its nationals and representing or arranging appropriate representation of its nationals before any foreign and other authorities under the national and international law and to protest violations of their citizen rights at the highest level with sincerity and full vigour.”

“Pakistan doesn’t recognize extraordinary rendition as a legal mechanism and that in fact it is an illegal act contrary to the human rights and abuse and excessive use of authority and is an international crime that a citizen can be surrendered or removed from one country to another.”

The petition requested the top court to direct the government for ratification of treaties either convention on the transfer of sentenced persons or the inter-American convention on serving criminals sentences abroad, in order to repatriate Dr Aafia and other Pakistani prisoners to homeland safely.

It further requested the top court to issue directives to the government for signing a bilateral agreement with the US to get back Dr Aafia Siddiqui and other Pakistani prisoners.

 

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN