from Pakistan

Islamabad court asks about steps taken for Dr Aafia’s return

The Islamabad High Court asked the government on Monday what steps it had taken so far to facilitate the return of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who was sentenced to 86 years in prison by a New York court in 2010.

The joint secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been summoned at the next hearing on February 10.

Justice Aamer Farooq said the State cannot be absolved of its responsibility. “The case will not be disposed of on just mere statements.”

Read more: ‘Shakil Afridi can be released in exchange for Aafia Siddiqui’

The deputy attorney general submitted the foreign ministry’s report to the court. The report said Dr Siddiqui refused on December 15 to meet the Pakistani consul general, adding that they are in contact with the US jail authorities and keep asking about her health.

Justice Farooq declared the government report unsatisfactory. He said no documents were attached with it and any report without documents does not hold importance. “Even after four years, no documents have been submitted. How can the foreign office be so careless?”

Fauzia Siddiqui said she wants to know if her sister is alive. While speaking to the media outside the court, she said the foreign office does not care about ordinary citizens. The government lawyers say that Dr Aafia is in Washington DC, she said. They don’t even know she has been imprisoned in Texas, she added.

On September 23, 2010, a New York court sentenced Dr Siddiqui to 86 years in prison.

Related: Aafia Siddiqui asks her ‘hero’ Imran Khan to help her get out of prison

Dr Siddiqui’s supporters claimed she was arrested in Pakistan and transferred to US custody. Both US and Pakistani officials, however, said she was arrested in Afghanistan.

Dr Siddiqui, an MIT graduate, allegedly went missing for five years before she was discovered in Afghanistan. It is believed that she snatched a gun during an interrogation in Afghanistan and tried to shoot a US soldier.

She was also accused of working for Al Qaeda.