Aafia’s arrest more complicated than Hollywood script: Ridley

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani neurologist Dr Aafia Siddiqui – ‘who is now in the hands of her abusers’ – was shot by the American military in a situation that even a Hollywood scriptwriter would find difficult to concoct, British journalist and peace activist Yvonne Ridley said on Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference along with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, the British journalist deplored the circumstances in which Dr Aafia was arrested while reportedly ‘attacking two armed US soldiers in Kabul’.

“I find it deplorable that having been shot by the American military in a scenario that even a Hollywood script writer would find difficult to concoct … Dr Aafia is now in the hands of her abusers,” said Ridley. Ridley is of the view that Dr Aafia has been ‘continuously abused’ over the five-year period since she and her children were ‘kidnapped’.

“This is not the way to treat a victim … you do not return a victim to her tormentors,” she said. “The retired general (Musharraf) is now out of office, but what is the new man (Zardari) doing to liberate our sisters?” She called for the Pakistani government to demand that Dr Aafia be returned to ‘what’s left of her family’, to allow the search for her missing children to begin.

Prisoner 650:
Ridley also expressed doubt over the identity of Prisoner 650 – who was earlier believed to be Dr Aafia Siddiqui. “I have now more news about Prisoner 650 … I can tell you categorically Prisoner 650 is not Dr Aafia,” said Ridley, citing American statements that this particular prisoner was repatriated to her country of origin in 2005. The Briton claimed that Prisoner 650 was not the only Muslim woman to have had been held in Bagram. “When the Americans are asked if more women are being held in Bagram … they say ‘no’,” she said, and called the US administration ‘liars’.

She said if the Americans had nothing to hide, they should have told her by now the number of Muslim women they were holding as ‘female enemy combatants’. Ridley also claimed that the Pakistani military had ‘played a part’ in this shocking episode. PTI chief Imran Khan demanded that the government expedite efforts for the release of Dr Aafia. Criticising government policies, he said they had complicated the situation in the Tribal Areas.

Tahir Niaz


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