Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday that the government will make all efforts on diplomatic level bring Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three jailed in the US for almost a decade, back to Pakistan.
The foreign minister said so while speaking to newsmen in Multan. “We will do whatever we could on diplomatic level to bring back Aafia Siddiqui,” he said.
Qureshi said Aafia’s family would be facilitated if she serves rest of her term in Pakistan. He also denied any offer made by the US in the past to free the incarcerated Pakistani neuroscientist in exchange for the release of Raymond Davis, a CIA operative who gunned down two men in Lahore in 2011.
The minister earlier this week also promised to provide legal assistance to Dr Aafia.
Dr Aafia has been in prison since 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault on US military personnel during an interview with US authorities in Ghazni, charges which Siddiqui denies. She was sentenced to 86 years in prison at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell, Fort Worth in Texas.
The Pakistani government had raised the issue of “respecting the human and legal rights” of Dr Aafia Siddiqui with US Ambassador Alice Wells who visited Islamabad on November 7.
“Government of Pakistan has been raising the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui with US authorities regularly. Pakistan’s CG (consul general) in Houston pays Consular visits to Dr Aafia, periodically, to inquire about her well-being and conveys her messages to Dr Aafia’s family if any,” the Foreign Office had said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The issue of respecting the human and legal rights of Dr Aafia Siddiqui was also raised in the meeting at MoFA with Ambassador Alice Wells on November 6,” it confirmed.
“The US side has promised to look into our request.”
Responding to a question about Dr Shakil Afridi, Qureshi said that “no bargains take place among countries” and that Pakistan had its own stance on the incarcerated doctor. “We understand that Shakil Afridi acted against Pakistan’s interests,” he said.
Afridi, who had helped US authorities track down al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was arrested by Pakistani authorities after then-CIA director Leon Panetta and then-US secretary of state Hillary Clinton had confirmed the doctor’s role in eliminating the al-Qaeda chief.