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Pakistani lawmakers meet Dr Aafia in Texas, call for her early release

NEW YORK (October 09 2008): The head of a visiting delegation of Pakistani Senators has called for the immediate release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from the US detention after a long meeting on Tuesday with her in a Texas facility where she is undergoing psychological evaluation.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Mushahid Hussain Sayed told APP by telephone that the four-member delegation had two-and-half hours meeting with Dr Siddiqui, the US-educated Pakistani neuroscientist, at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) at Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.

Dr Siddiqui, 36, who was shot in the abdomen by an American agent after allegedly grabbing a US soldier’s gun during questioning in July, was brought to New York on August 4 to face charges of attempted murder and assault. US District Judge Richard Berman last week ordered that Dr Siddiqui must undergo a month-long medical assessment, treatment and psychological examination before a special competency hearing to determine if she was “medically fit and mentally competent” to stand trial.

“We call for her immediate repatriation to Pakistan,” Mushahid said, pointing out that no terrorism charge had been brought up against her. He said her human rights were being violated. The Pakistani MPs delegation included Senator S M Zafar, Senator Saadia Abbasi and Senaor Talha Mahmood.

Mushahid thanked Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani for facilitating the meeting with Dr Siddiqui and for sending a senior diplomat Faqir Asif Hussain to accompany the delegation. He also thanked the Pakistan Embassy in Washington for the efforts it had been making to ensure Dr Siddiqui’s fair trial and in seeking urgent medical treatment for her.

In Washington, Faqir Asif Hussain said that Dr Siddiqui, who was pleased to meet the delegation, appeared in a good state of mind and in better physical health than when he met her in August in New York.

But she was anxious about denial of her basic rights and whether she would receive a fair trial and access to legal counsel of her choice. Dr Siddiqui told the delegation that charges pending against her were not true. On behalf of the embassy, Asif Hussain assured her that Ambassador Haqqani and his team of diplomats were striving for her repatriation to Pakistan on humanitarian grounds.

She thanked the embassy for the support extended to her. The embassy representative said the mission was working with the Justice Department and other US authorities to ensure that her rights were protected and would pursue her need for medical treatment.

According to Faqir Hussain, the stomach infection she complained of was gone and her bullet wound was on the mend. Asked as to what was Dr Aafia’s biggest concern, Faqir Hussain felt she wanted to go back to Pakistan at the earliest and was concerned about her children. She was also concerned about strip searches.
Source: Business Recorder

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