That is What Americans says..
And Americans are sticking to their Guns..
By Sami Abraham
WASHINGTON: The New York Times has reported that S H Farooqi, the uncle of MIT graduated Pakistani scientist Dr Aafia Siddiqi, has given a signed affidavit to the authorities swearing that Dr Aafia visited him in January 2008 in Islamabad and had asked for help to reach the Taliban in Afghanistan.
A 12-member jury in New York convicted Dr Aafia in February this year for trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2008.
It is for the first time that the information about such an affidavit has been made public. Dr Aafia dropped out of sight from 2003 to 2008 and her whereabouts and those of her three children, during this time, have been a mystery.
Her sister, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, has accused the Pakistani intelligence agencies of handing her over to the American officials. She says Ms. Siddiqui was transferred to the United States air base at Bagram, in Afghanistan, and tortured there. Her accusation is widely accepted in Pakistan, and strenuously denied by the American officials.
The paper says that Dr Aafia Siddiqi’s first husband, Dr. Amjad Khan, who was questioned by Pakistani and FBI officials, did not seem to agree with the accusations of Dr Fauzia and had said, during Dr Aafia’s disappearance, that she was hiding in Pakistan. He says he saw her on two occasions.
The paper also says that Dr Aafia’s eldest son Ahmed who was arrested in July 2008 in Ghazni, Afghanistan, along with his mother had told the Afghan investigators that they had arrived by road from Quetta two days before. Ahmed was later sent to be with his aunt, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui. The other two children, Suleman, 7, and Maryam, 12, remain missing, but their father says they have been seen at their aunt’s house.
The paper says that in an interview, Dr. Khan urged the United States, Pakistani and Afghan governments to publish joint findings on the whereabouts of his children. The paper reports that, today in Pakistan, Dr Aafia has become a national symbol of honour and victimisation so potent that politicians of all stripes, Islamists, the news media and an increasingly anti-American public have all lined up to champion her claim of innocence and the broad outpouring has forced the Zardari government not only to give a public assurance that it will continue its legal assistance but to also raise this issue with the US government.
And in a rare display of unity, Prime Minister Gilani, who has described Ms. Aafia as “daughter of the nation,” and the opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, have promised to push for her release. Last week, Pakistan Senate passed a resolution to demand her return to Pakistan. The paper says that all of this has taken place with little national soul-searching about the contradictory and frequently damning circumstances surrounding Ms. Siddiqui, who is suspected of having had links with al-Qaeda and the banned Jihadi group Jaish-e-Muhammad.The paper also says that instead, the Pakistani news media have broadly portrayed her trial as a “farce” and an example of the injustices meted out to the Muslims by the United States since September 11, 2001.
The paper says that Ms. Siddiqui’s trial, which focused only on charges surrounding her capture in Afghanistan, left many questions unanswered about allegations of her involvement with al-Qaeda and of terrorist activity.The paper claims she had a long involvement in Jihadi causes, even while a student at M.I.T. and, later, at Brandeis University.
And the FBI had accused her of opening a post office box in 2002 in the name of Majid Khan, who is suspected of being an al-Qaeda member and is being held in the United States military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The court documents show that after getting divorce from her first husband, Dr. Muhammad Amjad Khan, the father of her three children, she married Ammar Baluchi, the nephew of the professed orchestrator of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, in early 2003. Baluchi was arrested for his alleged role in financing the September 11 plot and is jailed at Guant·namo.
The paper says that last month, the Pakistani minister of state for foreign affairs, Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, said the evidence against Ms. Siddiqui was insubstantial. But senior Pakistani officials acknowledged that it was almost impossible to defend her in a court of law.
The paper says that one Western diplomat compared her case to that of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist accused of running a proliferation network, who now has the status of a national hero.
There is no doubt that the case of an ultraconservative, educated middle-class Pakistani woman who shunned the ways of the West and defied America has resonated in the Pakistani public.
“The iconisation of Aafia Siddiqui as an emblem of Pakistani womanhood represents the kind of female rebel acceptable in a rapidly Islamising Pakistani society,” the paper quotes Rafia Zakaria, a columnist in Pakistan.
“Leaving a husband for a second marriage, travelling alone, even putting your children in harm’s way,
all acts that would be otherwise reviled, became acceptable when they are done with the ultimate aim of defying the United States,” she said.