A lot of offers and promises have been made from both sides during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the United States. One positive development among others was that of Imran Khan’s raising the issue of imprisonment of Aafia Siddiqui in the US jail.
The step has been welcomed by Aafia’s sister, Fowzia Siddiqui, who has been fighting at every forum to get her released from American jail. Aafia was sentenced to 86 years in 2010 for allegedly shooting at a US military official, a claim for which no concrete evidence could be produced. Last time, when she appeared on media she was in very frail condition, she could not speak, walk or even open her eyes properly. Aafia Siddiqui had earned a PhD degree in cognitive neuropsychology from an American university in 1990s.
In an interview with Fox News in Washington, Prime Minister Imran Khan had talked about possibilities of swapping of prisoners Dr Shakil Afridi and Dr Aafia Siddiqui with the US.
When asked about releasing Afridi, PM Imran Khan had said that it was an emotive issue in Pakistan as he was considered a spy in the country.
However, the PM had said it was something that could be negotiated. “We also have someone in US prison, a frail woman called Afia Siddqui and we could negotiate a swap,” he had said.
Talking to a private news channel, Fowzia Siddiqui said it was welcoming that if they sought their man, you talked about yours. Nevertheless, she said, Pakistan should own its citizens. She said Pakistan had lost and sacrificed so much (in America’s war) that Aafia could be very easily brought back.
Fowzia said there should also have been an unconditional demand for her release. “She should be brought back at earliest,” she maintained.
She said prior to the prime minister’s leaving for the US, she met with senior leadership of the ruling party and all of them had assured of raising the issue of her freedom.
To a query, Fowzia Siddiqui said Aafia had a contact with her family in 2016 last time and since then she did not know anything about her sister.
She is hopeful about her sister’s freedom as a result of efforts of the PTI government.