ISLAMABAD, JAN 11 (DNA) – The Islamabad High Court (IHC) was informed on Monday that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui declined to meet Pakistan’s consul general in Houston when he visited the prison where she is detained to seek her consent for filing a mercy petition before the US Department of Justice.
Justice Aamir Farooq of the IHC was hearing a petition seeking measures for her repatriation to the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a report, stating that consular visits had been suspended by the prison authorities in Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Carswell due to the pandemic. As a result, it said, prison meetings of the consul general with Dr. Aafia had been put on hold.
However, the report detailed, the consul general remained in touch with the prison authorities in order to get update on the health and well-being of Aafia, which were regularly shared with her family. Due to efforts of the Pakistan embassy in Washington DC, a special consular visit was arranged for the consul general in Houston to meet Dr. Aafia on Sept 4, 2020, it said.
During the meeting, according to the report, Dr. Aafia herself informed the consul general that her Covid-19 test came negative. “Dr. Aafia was alert in her conversation with the Consul General. She also informed the Consul General that she had recently been examined by her psychiatrist who declared her (mentally sound and) well,” it read.
On December 28, 2020, it said the ministry’s additional secretary (Americas) held a telephonic conversation with Dr. Fowzia, sister of Dr. Aafia, during which, the former briefed the latter about the last consular visit and the latest status of her mercy petition.
Following the signing of a mercy petition by Dr. Aafia during the December 2019 consular visit, the embassy had approached the US Department of Justice (DoJ) for further course of action, the report said, adding the Office of Pardon Attorney at the department advised that the signed petition could be filed by the inmate herself by post or through the jail warden or through her appointed attorney. In the absence of a lawyer, the only other option was that the inmate file the petition herself through the prison warden.
“To address this caveat, our Consul General in Houston planned a visit to FMC to meet Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The meeting was scheduled on March 27, 2020, which was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic. As an alternative, petition was sent to FMC so that it could be forwarded to DoJ, however, FMC informed that Dr. Aafia refused to sign the additional consent form for dispatching the petition to DoJ,” it said.
“Consul general approached prison authorities for consular access at the earliest possibility. Only after the intervention of our Embassy in Washington, a special consular visit was arranged for Consul General on 24th September 2020, however, consent form couldn’t not be signed during that meeting.” The report said: “Consul General again went to meet Dr. Aafia on 15th December 2020 but prison authorities informed him that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui had refused to meet him.” DNA