WHILE it was sad to see the Foreign Ministry briefing the Senates Standing Committee on Interior that Dr Aafia may get life imprisonment lasting for 30 years, its assurance that it would be making efforts for her repatriation once her sentence was announced is somewhat comforting. Along with it, the issue of the repatriation of over 6,900 prisoners locked up in foreign jails also came under discussion and the committee rightly urged the Ministry not to leave them helpless. The state has a duty of providing legal help to its nationals stranded overseas. The Ministry has done well to inform the committee that it would take steps to try to bring Aafia back to Pakistan. The governments foot-dragging coupled with its silence simply gave the US a signal to make a monster out of Dr Aafia in the true sense of the term with its courts blindly buying the FBIs concocted story. In this point in time, her return would help assuage the feeling of outrage in Pakistan. Given the street protests and all that, the government needs to pace up its diplomatic efforts. And apart from that it also has a moral obligation of helping out a woman caught in agonising circumstances. During one of her court appearances, she revealed that she had been severely tortured and that she had been given medication that had had a harmful impact on her mental health. Of course, the authorities had been doing this to get a fake confession from her. Keeping in view the treatment meted out to her, there is every likelihood that she would be tortured if detained there. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the master-slave relationship we are having with the US. It is because of this very factor that the rights of Pakistanis have been trampled with impunity in the name of war on terrorism. The relationship must be strictly on a quid pro quo basis and if the US continues to treat us as a slave, Islamabad must not hesitate to part ways with it.