The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the ministries of interior and foreign affairs on Thursday to submit their comments on a petition seeking action to ascertain the whereabouts of Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s missing son.
Siddiqui, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and did her PhD in genetics, was sentenced to 86 years in prison by a US court for attacking American soldiers in Afghanistan.
She, along with her three children, was allegedly picked up by security agencies about nine years back.
The direction came on a petition of Intekhab Alam Suri and Imran Ahmed of the Human Rights Network, who submitted that Siddiqui, a resident of Karachi, along with her three children, was allegedly kidnapped from Gulshan-e-Iqbal in March 2003 when she was leaving for Rawalpindi from her mother’s house.
The petitioners alleged that US agencies – CIA and FBI – were also involved in the operation, and submitted that Siddiqui’s family was warned to remain silent about the abductions, or their lives could be in danger. They said the detainees were handed over to the US agencies by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies in violation of the constitution.
The counsel for the petitioners, Iqbal Aqeel, said that the detainees were not produced before any court of law in Pakistan and on the pointation of British journalist Yvonne Ridley in 2008 that Siddiqui was detained at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, the US authorities due to pressure of rights organisations falsely showed her arrest in Afghanistan in a false case.
The counsel for the petitioners said Siddiqui’s son, Mohammad Ahmed Khan, was released by the US authorities, while her daughter, Mayrum, was left outside her mother’s house in Gulshan-e-Iqbal last year. However, the whereabouts of Mohammad Suleman were still unknown, he said. A division bench, headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam, observed that any minor born to Pakistani citizen in the US was a Pakistani citizen as well. It further observed that the ministries of interior and foreign affairs were duty-bound to be concerned about the son of Siddiqui to extract information about his whereabouts.
The bench directed the federal law officer to convey the its directives to the foreign and interior ministries, and observed that if the ministries failed to comply with the directives, it may appoint amicus curiae to assist it in determining whether US authorities could be made to divulge information in respect of the well-being of Pakistani citizens.
It also appointed Salahuddin Ahmed as amicus curiae to assist it in establishing whether a foreign government or a state could be made subject to the jurisdiction of the court to enquire about the well-being and whereabouts of citizens of Pakistan in terms of Article 4 of the constitution.