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Tuesday May 21, 2024

Dr Afia refused to meet Pak consul general, IHC told

By Obaid Abrar Khan
January 12, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court expressed dissatisfaction on the report of Foreign Office pertaining to Dr Afia Siddiqui and summoned joint secretary of the department in person on the next hearing. Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing on a case filed by Dr Fauzia Siddiqui seeking efforts to bring Dr Afia Siddiqui back from the US custody.

During the hearing Monday, Deputy Attorney General Raja Khalid Mehmood submitted detailed report of the Foreign Office to the court regarding the matter. The report said a counselor general meeting was arranged on December 15, with Afia Siddiqui. However, the jail officials informed that she didn’t want to meet them.

The report said a meeting was held with Afia Siddiqui on September 24, and she told that her COVID-19 test was found negative. It further said the meetings with prisoners remained suspended last year due to COVID-19 outbreak. It stated that the Foreign Office was in contact with the jail officials regarding the updates about the health of Dr Afia. The report said the US Justice Department had informed that a prisoner could file request against the sentence on compassionate grounds through jail warden or mail service. It was only a solution without the lawyer that the prisoner herself filed an appeal, it said.

The deputy attorney general told the bench that the report comprised the consular access to Afia, her health condition and other matters. Our consular used to visit her in jail every month, he said. The court asked that whether the government was raising this matter with the new US setup. The petitioner’s lawyer adopted the stance that Dr Afia Siddiqui was arrested from Peshawar. The bench asked that whether Pakistan discussed the matter with American government. He asked Foreign Office to send a senior official on the next hearing to brief the court regarding the government’s measures for recovery of Dr Afia.

The bench observed that it was the responsibility of the state to protect the lives and property of its citizens. This case was filed four years ago but we were still standing at the same place, Justice Farooq noted.

The court directed the Foreign Office to satisfy the bench with relevant documents. The petitioner’s lawyer said the prisoners were brought back from UAE, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. After this, the court adjourned hearing of the case till February 10, with above instructions.