The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the ministries of interior and foreign affairs to file comments on a petition requesting that the whereabouts of Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s son, who along with his mother and two siblings, had been allegedly picked up by security agencies about nine years back, be ascertained.
The direction came on a petition of Intekhab Alam Suri and Imran Ahmed of the Human Rights Network, who submitted that Dr Aafia, a resident of Karachi, along with her three children, was allegedly kidnapped from Gulshan-e-Iqbal in March 2003 when she was leaving for Rawalpindi from her mother’s house.
The petitioners alleged that US agencies — CIA and FBI — were also involved in the operation, and submitted that threats were issued to Dr Aafia’s family to remain silent over the abduction; otherwise, their lives could be in danger.
They said the detainees were handed over to the US agencies by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies in violation of the Constitution.
The counsel for petitioners, Iqbal Aqeel, said that the detainees were not produced before any court of law in Pakistan and on the pointation of British journalist Yvonne Ridley in 2008 that Dr Aafia was detained at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, the US authorities due to pressure of rights organisations falsely showed the arrest of Dr Aafia in Afghanistan in a false case.
Dr Asfia, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, and did her PhD in genetics, was prosecuted in the US for allegedly attacking US soldiers in Afghanistan and convicted by a court for 86 years.
The counsel for the petitioners said that one son of Dr Aafia, Mohammad Ahmed Khan, was released by the US authorities while her daughter, Mayrum, was left outside her mother’s house in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area last year. He said that the whereabouts of Mohammad Suleman was still unknown.
He argued that the government had disrespected the nation by kidnapping the family of a detainee and a case be registered against the people involved in the kidnapping of Dr Aafia and her children. He said the US courts had no authority to conduct the trial of Dr Aafia without the fulfillment of lawful extradition formalities and that she should be handed over to the Government of Pakistan.
Naming the ministries of defence, foreign affairs and interior and the Sindh Home Department as respondents, the court was prayed to direct them to explain the violation of fundamental rights.
The petitioners also pleaded that those involved in the kidnapping of Dr Aafia and her children be tried in a court of law.
A division bench, headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam, observed that the whereabouts of one son of Dr Aafia were still unknown, while the query regarding the extension of US citizenship of another son had not been answered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The court observed that in terms of Article 4 of the Constitution it is an inalienable right of every citizen of the country to enjoy protection of law and to be tried in accordance with the law wherever he may be, while such
protection clearly extends beyond territorial limits of Pakistan and the embassies of Pakistan situated in Afghanistan and US are obliged to ensure such protection to Pakistani citizens.
The bench further observed that queries raised above were to be answered by the ministries of foreign affairs and interior.
Issuing notices to the secretaries of interior and foreign affairs, the bench directed both ministries to respond to queries with regard to the whereabouts of the missing son of Dr Aafia, and observed that in case no reply was received then it would be compelled to order the secretaries of the ministries concerned to appear.