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Govt comments sought on petition against Aafia’s detention

ISLAMABAD: The Isla­ma­bad High Court (IHC) has sought comments from aides to the prime minister and the interior minister on a petition filed against the detention of Dr Aafia Siddiqui by the US in its Guantanamo Bay prison.

The petition has been filed by Dr Fawzia Siddiqui, sister of Ms Aafia, through her counsel Sajid Qureshi.

Dr Fawzia attached with her petition the copy of a letter she said had been written by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Nov 9, 2008 to then PM Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani. The letter termed Ms Aafia’s detention a “blackening stigma on the honour of the nation” and urged Mr Gilani to raise the issue at the international forums.

The petitioner requested the court to ask the Sharif government to take up the matter with the US authorities and at international forums as he had desired when he was out of power.

The petition cited Sartaj Aziz, PM’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, Tariq Fatemi, special assistant to PM on foreign affairs, secretary, ministry of foreign affairs, principal secretary to prime minister and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as respondents.

After preliminary arguments, Islamabad High Court Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi issued notices on Friday to the respondents and directed them to submit comments within 10 days.

On May 5, 2013, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had disposed of a petition seeking extradition of Ms Aafia after the government lawyer conceded that under the Transfer of Offenders Ordinance 2002 she could be extradited to Pakistan.

Dr Fawzia then filed a contempt petition in the SHC, saying the authorities had not taken any step to bring her sister back.

The petition is pending adjudication before the SHC.