Demand for Repatriation of Aafia before Release of Afridi to US

Washington, DC: The Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF), a grassroots organization founded in 1982 in support of Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD), and the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Bay Area Chapter, have urged both the US and the Pakistan governments to a) institute legal mechanisms for prisoner-transfer, and b) release Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to Pakistan's custody before Dr. Shakil Afridi is to be released to US custody. The joint statement by Pakistani-American groups reads in part:

While Pakistani authorities have repeatedly made representations that avenues for Dr. Siddiqui's repatriation are being pursued, there have been no actions taken to move this forward.

Meanwhile, Dr. Siddiqui's health continues to deteriorate, and there is no end in sight to long legal battles that may continue for years to come.

The repatriation of Dr. Siddiqui to Pakistan, where she can be reunited with her children, would do a great deal toward mending the fast-deteriorating relations between the US and Pakistani governments. As Pakistani-Americans, we would be particularly heartened by such a break in the status quo - which has left us with the impression that neither government is willing to guarantee the rights of Pakistani citizens to fair and equal treatment under human rights conventions and international treaties…

Within the United States a wide array of law-makers have been publicly agitating in recent months for the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi from Pakistani custody. A similar situation occurred last year, when Pakistani authorities were asked to release Raymond Davis to US custody.

Unfortunately, in the Davis case, the government of Pakistan failed to take the opportunity to secure Dr. Siddiqui's repatriation prior to releasing Mr. Davis to US custody. The unilateral transfer of Dr. Afridi, like Mr. Davis before him, will simply perpetuate the notion that the government of Pakistan is unwilling to demand fair treatment for its citizens in the face of US government pressure.

As Pakistani-Americans, the repatriation of Dr. Siddiqui -- the daughter of the nation -- would symbolize hope for a new era of US-Pakistani relations based on mutual respect and understanding.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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