Thursday Nov 08, 2018
ISLAMABAD: The sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui claims the Pakistani government turned down an earlier offer by the US to release the imprisoned Pakistani neuroscientist in exchange for Raymond Davis, a CIA operative who gunned down two men in Lahore in 2011.
In an exclusive conversation with Geo News on Thursday, Fouzia Siddiqui said Washington also offered the release of her sister for Brigadier Bowe Bergdahl, a former US army officer who spent years in Afghan Taliban captivity until his release in 2014.
"There were several moments in which Aafia's return could have been possible. There was the time of Raymond Davis. I have clear-cut evidence that US offered Aafia for his exchange. But for these people [Pakistan government], other things became higher priorities," she said.
"There was also the American brigadier, Bowe Bergdahl. Aafia was also offered in exchange for him. But our government took other things in exchange for that."
Fouzia said Pakistan also missed the opportunity of seeking a presidential pardon for her sister from former US President Barack Obama.
"He [Obama] gave pardon to several prisoners, but Pakistan again did not act on time," she said.
Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three who has been jailed in a US prison since 2010. She was sentenced to 86 years in prison on charges of attempted murder and assault on US military personnel, charges she denies.
Her sister's comments come after the Pakistani government raised the issue of "respecting the human and legal rights" of Dr Aafia with US Envoy Alice Wells who visited Islamabad earlier this week.
In a press statement, the Foreign Office said the government 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 about her well-being and conveys her messages to Dr. Afia's family if any," it said.
Fouzia further said she was cent per cent hopeful that Aafia would soon be coming to Pakistan now.
"Prime Minister Imran Khan has been with us on this issue since 2003. He raised his voice when people were frightened and it was a time of dictatorship," she said.
"America is only asking for a signature to access the treaty under Transfer of Offenders Ordinance of Pakistan, under which, Aafia, being a Pakistani citizen, can serve rest of her term in Pakistan."
Fouzia added that this was not an exchange of prisoners, this would rather be a transfer of a Pakistani citizen to her country.