IHC directs FO to help family visit Aafia in US

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The Islamabad High Court has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving a jail sentence in an American prison, in getting a US visa so that they could visit her.

Aafia, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, was convicted by a US court in 2010 on charges of shooting at US army and FBI officers while in custody in Afghanistan and was sentenced to 86 years imprisonment.

Her sister, Fouzia Siddiqui, had filed a petition in October 2015 seeking directives for the government to increase its efforts for her sister’s release and for arranging meetings with family members.

In a written order dated June 24, the court said the Foreign Office had submitted a report dated June 20, stating that Pakistan’s consul general in Texas had visited the federal medical centre where Aafia was detained, “but it appears she now believes that her family is no longer alive, and the warden of FMC states that Dr Aafia could not be forced to make a phone call if she did not wish to”.

The court said the petitioner’s counsel had requested the court to direct the FO to “facilitate a visa for Dr Aafia’s family to visit her in the United States”. “The officer appearing for the Foreign Office states that the Foreign Office would make its best efforts to facilitate the visa and the requisite permissions for the family to visit Dr Aafia, but it cannot be guaranteed, for the ultimate decision in this regard rests with the US government,” the court observed.

It directed the Ministry of Foreign affairs to facilitate Dr Aafia’s family in getting a US visa to visit her, “with the assurance that the family’s liberty and safety will not be endangered by association with Dr Aafia”.

“The officer representing the Foreign Office present in court will provide his contact details to the learned counsel for the petitioner for Dr Aafia’s family to exchange the requisite information and for communication to be facilitated,” the court order read.

 

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