Pak senators refused access to Guantanamo detainees
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: The six-member Pakistan Senate delegation led by Mushahid Hussain, arriving here later this month to examine the state of Pakistani prisoners at Guantanamo, may as well stay home since American authorities have refused to permit the visitors from meeting the detainees.
Pakistan has been informed that the request to visit Pakistani detainees held at the United States naval facility at Guantanamo Bay has been rejected since the “United States does not permit delegations of this nature to meet with individual detainees at Guantanamo Bay”.
However, there is a “consolation prize” in the form of permission to meet Dr Aafia Siddiqui, now lodged in a maximum-security federal prison in Brooklyn, New York. Pakistan has been told that the US government is willing to facilitate a meeting “consistent with the applicable rules and procedures of the Metropolitaan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, New York, including advance clearances of the visitors and continent on Ms Siddiqui’s consent”. The government has been advised that further contacts in this regard should be made with the metropolitan detention centre itself.
The senators may not be able to see even Aafia Siddiqui, who according to court documents released this week, has been diagnosed with chronic depression. Federal Judge Richard Berman had ordered Siddiqui’s psychiatric examination after she refused to appear in court to protest the humiliating physically intrusive strip search to which she was being subjected every time, even before a meeting with her lawyer. Siddiqui was examined and first diagnosed with psychosis on September 2 by Bureau of Prisons psychologist Dr Diane McLean. Siddiqui is reported to be in “depressed mood, anxiety, ruminative thoughts concerning her son’s welfare, poor sleep, and moderate appetite”. She is also suffering from hallucinations. The psychiatrist wrote, “She also reported seeing her daughter in her cell, and was unable to apply appropriate reality testing to this phenomenon.” When given psychotropic drugs, Siddiqui declined to take them. What purpose can be served by the stricken Aafia Siddiqui, who is also nursing a bullet would, meeting the five senators and an official accompanying them, is hard to see.