It is good to know that in a meeting with Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s lawyer Tina Foster, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman deliberated on her case including ways to cut down the sentence. The Ambassador also discussed the possibility of arranging her repatriation to Pakistan. She assured the lawyer that the embassy would also organise a telephonic link between Dr Aafia and her family.

This show of support by the Ambassador is a crumb of comfort and is in stark contrast to the indifference of former regime of General Pervez Musharraf, who in fact abetted the US in her abduction. It is important that the government goes to her rescue and at least ensures her basic legal safeguards. And if clout has to be exercised with Washington for her repatriation there must be no shying away from that. Reports of Dr Aafia’s harsh treatment at the hands of CIA officials have been surfacing from time to time. Her health has deteriorated, incapacitating her ability to talk properly which only confirms reports – if more were needed - of her ill-treatment by prison authorities. Back in Pakistan, people are perturbed by her plight and have been protesting on the streets urging the government to secure her release. Her capture and subsequent trial is rightly seen as a classic example of ‘extraordinary rendition’- a tool with which the US has been secretly picking up alleged terror suspects. Even forensic investigations have revealed that the gun she is accused of handling, did not have her fingerprints. The charge that she was an Al-Qaeda sympathiser does not hold water. The case was attached undue hype by the US government demonising a convenient capture and tapping into fears of the American public concerning terrorist activities. The subsequent sentence of 86 years has made a travesty of the American judicial system.

One hopes that Ambassador Rehman will exert every effort to help Dr Aafia in her hour of trial. A significant cut in her sentence is only possible with President Obama’s pardon, and thus seems unlikely. However if international law can allow such things as ‘rendition’ there is no reason why it can’t allow Dr Aafia’s repatriation.