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April 10, 2020

Notices served on plea seeking proof of Dr Aafia’s well-being in US

Karachi

April 10, 2020

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued notices to the ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of human rights and others on a petition seeking directions to the federal government for contacting the United States authorities to provide proof of the well-being and good health of the detained Dr Aafia in a US prison.

Dr Aafia, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and completed her PhD in genetics, was prosecuted in the US for allegedly attacking US soldiers in Afghanistan and convicted by a US court for 86 years in prison in September 2010.

The petitioner, Dr Fouzia, submitted in the petition that Dr Afia, a resident of Karachi, along with her three children, was allegedly kidnapped in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in March 2003 when she was leaving for Rawalpindi. She submitted that the detainees were handed over to the US agencies by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies in violation of the constitution.

She requested the high court to direct the government to discharge their lawful duty assigned to them by the constitution and international charters and treaties and contact the US government to provide proof of Dr Aafia’s well-being through a live video call with the family and submit the health report of her as access to health facilities was her fundamental right.

The petitioner’s counsel, Irfan Aziz, submitted that Dr Aafia was incarcerated in FMC CARSWELL Fort Worth, Texas USA and earlier she was allowed to talk to her family members through telephonic call after the payment of fee but for the last three years, she had not been allowed to talk to her family members.

He submitted that there were reports in the US media with regard to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in US prisons, and expressed fear about the life of the detainee. He informed the SHC that the petitioner had communicated the foreign affairs secretary about being not able to personally contact Dr Aafia for three years. He submitted that the petitioner had also seen the US prison’s manual, according to which the prisoners were allowed 300 minutes in phone calls as well as video calls and four-hour visits per week but Dr Aafia had been denied all these rights.

The counsel said due to the pandemic, various prisoners of different countries had been released by the US government. He requested the SHC to issue a notice to the ministry of foreign affairs to come up with a reply as to what efforts had been made by them for the release of Pakistani prisoners from prisons out of Pakistan.

He also asked the SHC to direct the federal government and foreign affairs ministry to make arrangements for a telephonic call of Dr Aafia with her family members and call her health report through the US authorities.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar after the preliminary hearing of the petition issued notices to the federal foreign affairs, interior and human rights ministries to file their comments on the petition by April 16.

It is pertinent to mention that the SHC in May 2013 had disposed of a petition with a direction to the federal government to make efforts for Dr Aafia towards a bilateral agreement in the light of two conventions between Pakistan and the US within reasonable time.