Zardari Government Impedes Repatriation Efforts for Dr. Aafia, Says Pakistan American National Alliance
ISLAMABAD and WASHINGTON, Sept. 9
ISLAMABAD and WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Government of Pakistan has refused to cooperate with the efforts of an international delegation of prominent experts scheduled to visit Pakistan to advocate for the repatriation of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a U.S.-educated child specialist, being tried in a NY Court for the attempted murder of U.S. soldiers. Independent journalists like Yvonne Ridley believe that she was illegally kidnapped in 2003 by Pakistani and U.S. agencies and held incommunicado, along with her three children, one of whom might be dead.
The Pakistan American National Alliance (PANA) organized the group's visit in order to provide expertise to facilitate Dr. Aafia's repatriation, improve Pakistan-U.S. relations, and lend support to the Pakistan Government in the aftermath of a cataclysmic flood.
The delegation was to be led by former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. However, Ms. McKinney's visa application was unreasonably delayed before being denied without explanation by Pakistani authorities.
"I am shocked by the lack of support offered to our delegation by Pakistani authorities; I thought we were on the same side," McKinney said. "I know the Pakistani people want Dr. Aafia to come home," McKinney added.
Other members of the delegation include UK Member of Parliament Lord Nazir Ahmed, as well as world-renowned investigative journalist and expert on Dr. Siddiqui's case, Ms. Yvonne Ridley.
PANA Founder Dr. Agha Saeed stated, "The denial of visas by Mr. Zardari's NRO government lends further credence to the popular belief that his government is resisting Dr. Aafia's repatriation to avoid harrowing revelations about thousands of other missing Pakistanis."
PANA has urged the government of Pakistan to act now -- prior to sentencing -- to secure Dr. Siddiqui's repatriation. Under applicable U.S. law, once there is a final judgment of conviction entered against Dr. Siddiqui, she cannot be returned to Pakistan unless it is pursuant to a prisoner transfer treaty. There is currently no such treaty in force between the U.S. and Pakistan.
The government of Pakistan can avoid unnecessary legal impediments, as other governments have done, if it takes serious steps now to repatriate Dr. Siddiqui. At any time before sentencing, expected to occur on 23 September 2010, U.S. prosecutors have the authority to dismiss the charges if they believe the interests of justice and public policy are advanced. The Pakistani government has been fully aware of this information since early this year.