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Thursday Nov 08 2018

Qureshi promises legal assistance to Aafia Siddiqui


MULTAN/ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday the government will provide legal assistance to Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three jailed in the US for almost a decade.

Speaking to media here in Multan, the foreign minister said he would be meeting Aafia's sister, Dr Fouzia Siddiqui, next week. 

"Whatever assistance could be provided to her while remaining within the ambit of law, it is my duty and I will do that," Qureshi told newsmen.

He said the government will try to reduce difficulties of the incarcerated Pakistani neuroscientist.

On the other hand, a spokesman for the Foreign Office of Pakistan said progress had been made in the case of Dr Aafia, however, its details could not be revealed now.

The spokesman, Dr Mohammad Faisal, however, said that no decision had been taken regarding her release as yet.

"We have spoken to the US about Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s issue. However, no decision has been taken regarding her release as yet," he said, during weekly press briefing in Islamabad.

"Since a decision has not been taken regarding her release, we cannot say when she will be freed."

The Pakistani government raised the issue of "respecting the human and legal rights" of Dr Aafia Siddiqui with US Ambassador Alice Wells who visited Islamabad on Tuesday.

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

"The issue of respecting the human and legal rights of Dr Aafia Siddiqui was also raised in the meeting at MoFA with Ambassador Alice Wells on November 6," it confirmed. "The US side has promised to look into our request."

Dr Aafia 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.


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