Aafia in better health but vague about missing years
* Aafia tells Pakistani senators charges against her baseless, has no confidence in her lawyers, US court
* Claims she was tortured, made to sign documents, being forced to admit things
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: Dr Aafia Siddiqui, now being held in a Texas facility for psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is fit to stand trial, was allowed to meet the four-member Pakistani parliamentary delegation for two hours 45 minutes on Tuesday.
Siddiqui appeared to be in much better health and physical condition than she has been since her arrest, allegedly in Afghanistan, and her removal by US authorities to the United States to face trial for attacking US personnel with an assault weapon, a story whose credibility will be tested in court. The four-member delegation from Pakistan is made up of Senator Mushahid Hussain, Sen SM Zafar, Muhammad Talha Mahmood and Saadia Khaqqan Abbasi. The four lawmakers, accompanied by Faqir Asif Hussain, counsellor at the Pakistan embassy, were able to meet Siddiqui without the presence of a US official. She was also permitted to sit next to them, instead of being separated by a partition, as is normally the case.
Lack of confidence: Siddiqui told her visitors that the assault case against her had no basis in fact. She also expressed her lack of confidence in both the court hearing her case and the two lawyers who are representing her. While thanking the Pakistani government and the embassy in Washington in particular for their concern, she indicated that she should be provided with proper legal representation. Her bullet wound suffered during her alleged scuffle with armed US guards while being questioned after her arrest from a government compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan, she said, had healed. She said she wanted the case against her dropped and she wished to be returned to Pakistan.
Siddiqui was unable to explain to the four Pakistani lawmakers, including one of the country’s leading lawyers, SM Zafar, where exactly she had been for the last five years. Her sense of time and place appeared to be out of sync. She said she was on her way to the Karachi airport in 2003 with her children when she was taken. She remembers being given an injection and when she came to she was in a cell. She said she was being brainwashed by men who spoke perfect English. They could be Afghan or others. She did not think they were Pakistanis. She said she was being forced to admit things she had allegedly done. She was made to sign statements, some of which included information on phone calls she was said to have made. She also stated that she had been tortured but she provided no details. She was told by her captors that if she did not co-operate, her children would suffer. Her account of the five years she had been missing remained incoherent, unsequenced and extremely vague. Her visitors did not press her hard but they returned unsatisfied with what they had been told. She said she did not know where her children were. Her son, allegedly arrested with her in Ghazni, has since been returned to Pakistan. She was vague about her other two children and it was not clear if they had been with her during her captivity.