US citizens urge release of Pakistani woman scientist

KARACHI: Prominent citizens of the United States of America have called for the release of Pakistani woman scientist and educationalist Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

In this regard Dr Fowzia Siddiqui of Aafia Movement Pakistan said here on Thursday that the concerned US citizens in an open letter to President Barack Hussein Obama and Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said that Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani citizen, has legal status in the United States.

The concerned citizens including John L Esposito President of American Academy of religion, Joe Lambardo President UNAC, Larry Schilling, Dr. Ashraf Abbasi President Pak American Congress, Ako Abdul Samad IOWA state representative, Sara Flounders President Workers Action Forum, Cynthia Mc Kenny former US Congress Woman, Imam Mahdi Bray, National Director, American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Muhammad Salim Akhtar, Executive Director, American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), Dr Mohammed Ashraf Toor, President, Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF), Shahid Comrade, Secretary-General, Pakistan-US Freedom Forum (PUFF), Raja Yaqub, Vice President, Pakistan American National Alliance (PANA), Dr Agha Saeed, CEO, AMA-Foundation (AMA-F) and other said despite the representations of the government of Pakistan that it seeks Dr. Siddiqui’s repatriation to her homeland, they are deeply concerned that she continues to suffer needlessly in a U.S. federal prison thousands of miles from her family and country. They said they are also very concerned about her deteriorating physical and mental health throughout her excruciating ten year ordeal.

They said in the past, both governments had missed several opportunities to reunite Dr. Siddiqui with her family. They said for example, two years ago, U.S. government intelligence contractor Raymond Davis unjustifiably killed two Pakistani citizens in broad daylight in Pakistan. The U.S. government demanded his repatriation, and Dr. Siddiqui’s family and legal counsel requested that the transfer should only be made if Dr. Siddiqui was also repatriated to Pakistan. Unfortunately, the leaders of Pakistan at the time failed to take any action to secure Dr. Siddiqui’s return.

They said as US citizens they are deeply disappointed by the lack of concern shown by their own successive administrations, first the Bush Administration and now the Obama Administration, for the endless suffering of this highly talented MIT and Brandies laureate cognitive neuroscientist and educationist.

They mentioned that the continued mistreatment of this most highly educated Muslim female on a series of shifting charges exposes our support for Ms Malala Yousafzai as insincere and merely a propaganda tool in the so-called war on terror (that is being perceived by many as a war to recolonize the Muslim world). “We are also saddened that her children in Pakistan have had to spend the past 10 years separated from their mother – their pleas for help to return their mother to them have so far been ignored.”

They said with the recent election of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, we are heartened by the representations of the new government that it would finally take steps to facilitate Dr. Siddiqui’s return to Pakistan. At this historical juncture, when both governments are seeking to turn a new page in their relationship, there are multiple options for a positive resolution to this tragic case that would result in the repatriation of Dr. Siddiqui within legal frameworks that would provide enormous benefit to the image of the U.S. in Pakistan and across the Muslim world and the region. Such positive winning of hearts and minds can only help bring about a better climate of trust and cooperation.

They urged the Obama administration to take immediate action and make a firm commitment to end the decade-long injustice and send Dr. Siddiqui home before the end of 2013.