Vietnam War-era US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who has developed a formidable reputation as a humans rights advocate, addressing a seminar in Karachi on Sunday by the Afia Siddiqui Movement, said she was an innocent citizen of Pakistan, and had become a victim of international politics. His rejection of the charges against her, were a reminder that the lengthy jail term she is serving is meant to be for the crime of pointing a snatched weapon at an interrogating officer. Her sister, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, stated her to be a daughter of the Muslim Ummah, and that she deserved better treatment.

Confidence in the justness of the American justice system had been one of the biggest barriers to accepting that an injustice has been done to Dr Siddiqui. However, Mr Clark’s declaration should go some way in changing this opinion, especially since he is speaking about a system he personally presided over. As Mr Clark said, freeing her would help remove an irritant from US-Pakistan relations. It is only officialdom’s stubbornness which is keeping her behind bars.

Mr Clark did not mention one of the main reasons Dr Siddiqui was still in jail, and that is the lack of sufficient diplomatic measures. The government remains a silent spectator in the Afia Siddiqui case, and does not use all the measures at its disposal. It must, because there can be no greater national interest than the freedom of one of its citizens, or of its citizens to be with their children, from whom Dr Siddiqui is still parted. There seems to be no area where the government has succesfully defended the rights of its citizens. Dr Afia Siddiqui is simply another example of this.