By Mariana Baabar
ISLAMABAD: In the New York Jail six masked men tied her hands behind her back, stripped her naked and made her video film. While being taken back to her cell in a wheelchair a woman covered her with a blanket and begged the masked men not to humiliate Dr Afia Siddiqui.
In response to a question about the nature of security checks, Dr Afia said many a times she was stripped for security check in the New York jail and due to that humiliation she even stopped seeing her lawyer. She despised being stripped for security checks.
This is the first hand report recently compiled by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas on meeting with Dr Afia Siddiqui on October 7, 2008 at Carswell, Fort Worth, Texas, USA.
The meeting with Dr. Afia at Carswell, Fort Worth, Texas, last year was attended by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Senator S M Zafar, Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood, Senator Ms Saadia Abbasi, Iftikhar Ullah Babar, secretary committee/additional secretary and Faqir Syed Asif Hussain, consular, Pakistan embassy, Washington DC.
According to the report, she had been shifted to the Federal Medical Centre at Carswell, Texas for psychological tests and treatment. “She loses track of time and occasionally does not recall names and events. In the medical centre she was also being treated for some gynecological problem. Her gynecologist is a male, while psychologist is a female. She also informed of stone formation in one of her kidneys. According to her a different form of interrogation had begun at the centre but generally conditions were better compared to the New York jail. However, she alleged that she could be killed due to administration of regular injections for speeding her memory loss,” adds the report.
In reply to a question by Senator S M Zafar as to what message she has for the people in Pakistan, she requested that Pakistan should not hand over its citizens to the US for interrogation. She said that when she narrates her story Pakistan should change its foreign policy. Dr Afia was against some clergy in Pakistan and alleged that they did not work for Pakistan. Senator Saadia Abbasi asked if she wanted the delegation to seek permission for any of her family members to visit her in the US, Dr Afia responded that she did not want any member of her family to travel to the US, as she wanted to go back to Pakistan.
When asked by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed whether she got married to Ammar Ali Balochi, as had been alleged by some US official quarters, she denied knowing Ammar Ali Balochi let alone being married to him. Ammar Ali Balochi is presently under detention at Guantanamo.
Dr Afia Siddiqui wanted to meet her children. Whenever she felt hopeless she wanted to die. Her brother, who lives in Houston, had talked to her only once. She wants to go back to her country and serve her people. Once back in Pakistan she would teach Quran differently. She had fasted during the holy month of Ramazan.
She replied in the negative when Senator Mushahid Hussain asked whether the identity of the delegation was disclosed to her before the meeting. The members of the delegation encouraged her not to lose hope and think positively. Since she was frail they also advised her to eat properly and take care of her health. Senator Mushahid told Dr Afia Siddique that in 2009 she would be in Pakistan. When the delegation said ‘Khuda Hafiz’ (goodbye) to Dr Afia and was about to leave the meeting hall, tears rolled down her cheeks. Before leaving, Senator Mushahid Hussain told her that the entire Pakistani nation was solidly behind her. He said, “There is no charge of terrorism against you and we will seek your release and repatriation to Pakistan.”
Earlier, at the gate of the medical centre the delegation was received by a senior federal representative and security officials of the centre. The members of the delegation passed through security check similar to the one carried out at airports in the US and Europe. During the delegation’s meeting with Dr Afia the US officials stayed at a distance and did not interrupt the meeting or impose any time restriction. The meeting lasted for two hours and 45 minutes. Dr Afia was brought to the meeting with respect and dignity, without any handcuffs and shackles.
The members informed Dr Afia that the delegation was sent by parliament, backed by the government of Pakistan and that she had their full support. Dr Afia Siddiqui asked the delegation if America had attacked Pakistan, to which the members replied in the negative. Dr Afia said that all she remembered was that she was traveling in a taxi to her maternal uncle’s house and later found herself in Bagram, Afghanistan. The delegation asked why she had to leave her home to which she replied that at that time she did not enjoy good relations with her mother due to Afia’s divorce from her husband. She did not know where she was taken as she had problem recollecting and reconciling dates and places.
In Bagram she was physically tortured, however, the Afghans did not humiliate her. Her three children, two sons and a daughter (Ahmad, Suleman and Maryam) were taken away. She was told that her children would be returned only if she confessed to meetings with certain people. She however did not disclose the names of the said people to the delegation. She agreed and feared that this forced confession could go against her in Pakistan. She also feared that her third child, a son by the name of Suleman, might have been killed. She alleged that at Bagram one of the interrogators was an Indian, who was her contemporary at MIT and was interested in her research work.
Source: The News