KARACHI: Dr M. Amjad Khan, former husband of Dr Aafia Siddiqui who is being tried in a New York court for her alleged attack on American security personnel in Afghanistan, has demanded custody of his eldest son, Ahmad, released by the Afghan authorities last year, and the two other children.
However, the Siddiqui family claims that Dr Khan had surrendered the children’s custody to their mother and his demand is malicious.
He said he had been unable to see his son since the latter arrived in the country from Afghanistan last year, and that his former in-laws were denying him access to the boy.
“I have constantly been requesting them (the Siddiqui family) through phone calls, letters, well-wishers and media persons to let me see Ahmad, but they have rejected all my requests and have made what looks to me an illogical condition that a meeting will only be held in front of media cameras at their press conferences,” said Dr Khan in a written statement sent to Dawn.
“In order to prevent my meeting with Ahmad, they falsely claim that my custody suit will harm Aafia’s chances of coming back, but this is a baseless claim.”
He said that in the mother’s absence, it was his obligation to take custody of all the three children and to provide them with proper upbringing and education.
“Ismat Siddiqui and Dr Fowzia Siddiqui are too busy with their own children, protests and demonstrations to properly look after my children, and are neglecting them,” he said.
Dr Khan said he suspected that his other two children, Mariam and Suleman, were also in the custody of the Siddiqui family and not detained by the US authorities.
“If my two ‘missing’ children were really in US prisons, why would the Pakistani government and the Siddiqui family not bring charges against the US government in American courts?” he wondered.
“The custody case is unrelated to Aafia’s criminal trial. I am just claiming my children’s right and my duty,” he added.
He alleged that his son was being deprived of proper schooling by the Siddiqui family on the pretext of a death threat, adding that he had decided to file a custody case for the children before a court of law.
Siddiqui family’s claims
Dr Khan’s claims came as a rude shock to the Siddiqui family, who said they did not believe that Dr Khan’s sudden media appearance was simply motivated by fatherly attachment to the children.
“We invited him (Dr Khan) several times to see his son, but every time he refused to do so,” said Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, elder sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui spearheading a campaign for the release of her sister. “In 2003, Dr Khan himself signed a document surrendering children’s custody to Dr Aafia after their divorce.”
She alleged that Dr Khan was in fact helping the US authorities to establish the false charges against her sister and his recent statements against the Siddiqui family were part of that campaign.
“Can a child who has spent years under detention witnessing his mother being tortured be declared fit to attend a regular school so soon? Ahmad was under serious mental stress after he returned from Afghanistan. Now he is improving and hopefully will soon join regular schooling. In the meantime, three different tutors have been teaching him regularly for the last few months.”