Qureshi vows all-out diplomatic efforts to bring back Aafia


MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government will make all-out efforts at the diplomatic level to bring Dr Aafia Siddiqui back to Pakistan.

Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three who has remained imprisoned in the United States (US) for almost a decade.

FM Qureshi, while speaking to reporters in Multan, said, “We will do whatever we can at the diplomatic level to bring back Aafia Siddiqui.”

He said Aafia’s family would be facilitated if she serves rest of her term in Pakistan, rejecting the reports that the government made an offer to the US in past to free the incarcerated Pakistani neuroscientist in exchange for the release of Raymond Davis, a CIA operative who gunned down two men in Lahore during 2011.

The Pakistani government had raised the issue of “respecting the human and legal rights” of Dr Aafia Siddiqui with US Ambassador Alice Wells, who visited Islamabad on November 7.

Dr Aafia has been in prison since 2010 on the charges of attempted murder and assault on US military personnel during an interview with the US authorities in Ghazni, charges which Aafia Siddiqui denies. She was sentenced to 86 years in prison at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell, Fort Worth in Texas.

Earlier this week, the minister had promised to provide legal assistance to Dr Aafia.

“Government of Pakistan has been raising the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui with US authorities regularly. Pakistan’s CG (consul general) in Houston pays Consular visits to Dr Aafia, periodically, to inquire about her well-being and conveys her messages to Dr Aafia’s family if any,” the Foreign Office had said in a statement on Wednesday.

Regarding Dr Shakil Afridi, who is in a Pakistani jail, the foreign minister said Pakistan has its own stance as he had worked against the interest of his country.

To a question about the cases on Sharif family, he said that the cases were registered before the PTI government. He said that the NAB is an independent institution and the government could not interfere in its affairs. The cases on Sharif family should not be attributed to the PTI government, he added.

Condemning the Indian firing across the Line of Control (LoC), the foreign minister said India was violating the ceasefire to divert the world’s attention from its atrocities in the occupied Kashmir.

To a query, he said he is unaware about the issue between Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and PML-Q.