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November 8, 2018

Pakistan conveys concerns to US about Dr Aafia

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November 8, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government has raised the issue of "respecting the human and legal rights" of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three jailed in the US for almost a decade, with US Ambassador Alice Wells who visited Islamabad on Tuesday.

"Government of Pakistan has been raising the issue of Dr Afia Siddiqui with US authorities regularly. Pakistan's CG (consul general) in Houston pays Consular visits to Dr Siddiqui, periodically, to inquire after her well-being and conveys her messages to Dr Afia's family if any," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

"The issue of respecting the human and legal rights of Dr Afia Siddiqui was also raised in the meeting at Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Ambassador Alice Wells on November 6," it confirmed.

"The US side has promised to look into our request." The statement further read that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi would soon meet sister of Dr Afia Siddiqui in Islamabad. Wells, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was in Islamabad on Tuesday to follow up on Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington last month.

A government statement following Wells' visit said US-Pakistan bilateral agenda including the upcoming Geneva Conference and the Afghan peace process were discussed. There was no official statement by the Pakistani government on discussions regarding Dr Siddiqui.

But diplomatic sources told Geo News that Pakistani officials informed the US officials of its concerns and conveyed position that fundamental human rights be taken into consideration in the case of Dr Siddiqui.

Dr Siddiqui 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 development comes after the neuroscientist reportedly penned a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, requesting him to make efforts for her release.

On Tuesday, sources had said the Pakistani consul general in Houston paid Dr Siddiqui a visit on October 9 during which she made the request to convey her message to the prime minister.

"I want to get out of prison, my imprisonment in the US is illegal as I was kidnapped and taken to the US, Imran Khan had supported me in the past also. I have always considered him as one of my biggest heroes and wish to see him as the Khalifa of all the Muslims. He should be careful of the munafiq around him," she said.

The sources had further said that Dr Siddiqui's request had been conveyed to the prime minister.

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