Pakistani leaders greet bold stance of US lawmaker on Aafia issue

Karachi: Pakistani leaders have warmly welcomed the bold stance of former US Senator Mike Gravel that Pakistani mother Dr Aafia Siddiqui, presently serving an 86-year sentence in a prison medical centre in Texas, should be immediately released as a goodwill gesture towards the people of Pakistan.

Senator Mike Gravel, at a press conference in UN headquarters in New York has made an impassioned plea to President Barack Obama to pardon Dr Siddiqui, 43, in a gesture towards the people of Pakistan who have been vigorously demanding her release.“Aafia has suffered enormously away from her children and home,” he said.

Gravel called US District Judge Richard Berman, who had sentenced Aafia 86-year prison on flimsy charges a “crazy judge”, saying Siddiqui committed no crime. This case was one of great injustice, declared Senator Gravel.

Pasban e Pakistan President Altaf Shakoor said the bold stance of the US lawmaker is a testimony to the victory of truth. He said it is heartening that peace loving people in all parts of the world including the United States are raising voice against violation of basic human rights of Dr Aafia Siddiqui. He said Pasban e Pakistan has been demanding for long to release and repatriate the Pakistani mother as it would not only be a step forward to dole out justice to Aafia which she earnestly deserves but it would also greatly improve people-to-people relations between Pakistan and the US.

He hoped that the governments of Pakistan and the US would take this issue seriously and resolve it on the humanitarian grounds in the larger interest of justice and equity. He said Pakistani nation wants Aafia back home and US administration should respect this national sentiment.

However, Senator Talha Mahmood praised the statement made by US Senator Mike Gravel on the UN opening ceremony that Pakistani daughter Dr Aafia is innocent and should be returned to her homeland. His strong critique of the judge and appeal to president Obama is an appeal we all are making, he said.

He said Senator Gravel has taken a stand that every peace and justice loving person would do. He has voiced the sentiments of humanitarians around the world especially in Pakistan by highlighting the injustice done to the daughter of the Nation Aafia. “Not a single person disagrees that Aafia hurt no one, but was sentenced to 86 years in super max on fabricated evidence, and cold blooded killers like Raymond Davis are set free.”

Senator Talha Mahmood lauded the statement and he said that the senate committee has already passed unanimous resolutions that Aafia should be returned home.” We appeal to President Obama to take this bold and courageous stand and show the world that America cares. We appeal to President Mamnoon Husain and to take this issue with American diplomats and that this is the will of the people evidenced by the recent White House petition signed by hundreds of thousands of people and massive rallies across the country.”

Senator Talha reminded Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif of his promise and said the time has come for him to fulfil the promise made to our long suffering aggrieved daughter and return from USA with Dr Aafia.

President Obama can gain more goodwill of the people of Pakistan by transferring Aafia than billions of dollars in aid ever will, and the wise US Senator Gravel sees and feels this, concludes Senator Talha.