Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday that the government wishes to see a decline in the “difficulties” faced by Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently imprisoned in the United States.
Speaking to reporters in Multan, he said the Foreign Office had taken up complaints raised by Dr Aafia with US authorities during the last few days.
Dr Aafia, who was convicted in 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault of US personnel, is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. It is a US federal prison for female inmates of all security levels with special medical and mental health needs.
“We will definitely try,” was Qureshi’s response when asked by a reporter how successful the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government would be in bringing the imprisoned neuroscientist to Pakistan.
The minister said Aafia’s sister, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, had wanted to meet him and she was given a date for the purpose. However, the meeting could not take place due to her personal engagements.
“I will [now] meet her next week and hear her out. I will help her in whatever way I can within the limits of the law,” Qureshi said.
The Foreign Office had revealed on Wednesday that Pakistani officials had raised the issue of “respecting the human and legal rights” of Dr Aafia with the US.
The matter was brought up during a meeting between Alice Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and government officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this week.
“[The] US side has promised to look into our request,” the FO spokesman said.
A court in New York had sentenced Dr Aafia, an MIT graduate, to 86 years in prison on September 23, 2010.
Her sympathisers claim that she was arrested in Pakistan and handed over to intelligence agencies who then transferred her into US custody. Both US and Pakistani officials, however, say that she was arrested in Afghanistan.
Dr Aafia allegedly went missing for five years before she was discovered in Afghanistan. It is said that she snatched a gun during interrogation in Ghazni and tried to shoot a US soldier. She has also been accused of working for Al Qaeda.