By Yasser Latif Hamdani
Denial, ladies and gentlemen, is not a river in Egypt- it is a river that flows in the heart of every Muslim who is trying to come to terms with modern reality and the brutal assault on his or her identity. Instead of course corrections and calculations to persevere, the Muslim sentiment led by its “intelligentsia” which is seldom intelligent has chosen to make martyrs out of people like Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
The Islamic right wing has gone into hyper-drive. It is not uncommon to find at these rallies organized by Jamaat-e-Islami and the like young boys of pre-teen and teen years dressed up like Muhammad Bin Qasim saying “Labaik” to free the hapless Muslim sister. But have these gentlemen considered just how far this false religious frenzy has been manipulated by the forces that be to create a right wing?
The whole thing is sinister from the start. Let us not speak of the verdict on legal grounds but suffice to say Siddiqui’s conduct during the trial made her word unreliable. It is therefore understandable why the jury were ready to believe the soldiers’ version. The verdict itself is likely to be appealed and by the time it goes through to the system from circuit to Supreme Court, we can be sure of one thing : Siddiqui would have had the due process that her champions have been clamouring for (but which her champions would deny to others in a heartbeat).
The real issue to my mind is the “missing years”. Guardian reporter Declan Walsh quoted two key members of Aafia Siddiqui’s family who have refuted that Aafia was incarcerated all through out 2003-2008. One of them is Aafia Siddiqui’s uncle. The one key person who can put this controversey to rest once and for all is Aafia Siddiqui’s son Ahmad aka Ali Hassan. Now here is the fun part- Fawzia Siddiqui, his aunt, doesn’t let him speak. Why? Unfortunately those championing poor Ms. Siddiqui refuse to answer these questions. They launch into long winded and inane arguments about Aafia’s husband beating her up but they don’t have the moral courage to ask why Fawzia Siddiqui doesn’t want the boy presented before media.
The real story I suspect is very different from either of the two versions. Consider the fairy tale script.
1. A British journalist by the name of Yvonne Ridley is held captive by the Taliban.
2. The Taliban let Ridley go. Ridley converts to Islam. Sues Al Jazeera. Wins. Sues another TV Channel wins. Starts her one woman battle against the West.
3. Khalid Shaikh Muhammad is arrested and he names Aafia Siddiqui.
4. Aafia Siddiqui goes missing.
5. Five years later Ridley lets the prisoner 650 out of the bag after miraculously gaining access to Bagram air base – despite her credentials as being anti-American and pro-Taliban (strange considering how many journalists are not allowed to go there).
6. The very next month Aafia Siddiqui is caught in Kabul (looking perfectly healthy mind you- watch Al Jazeera’s video on “Aafia Siddiqui’s missing years” – not anything like what Ridley described prisoner 650- look especially at her hands – the manicure).
7. Ridley starts a global campaign for Siddiqui’s release. Travels all over the United States as part of “Free Aafia tour”. (How strange given that the US routinely deports people like Tariq Ramadan and Cat Stevens etc).
Now many of you- though not all- will be wondering what I am getting at. Well this comes back to a very different ball game that is being played in Pakistan. Some sections within the US’ entrenched establishment are working at cross purposes to Obama’s stated Af-Pak policy. The objective might well be to de-stabilize Pakistan by using right wingers to lead to a fulfillment of the Ralph Peters’ plan of a reduced nuclear free Pakistan and a reduced Iran with a free Baluchistan state under American tutelage. My own hunch is that this is not Obama’s policy but a policy of small minded men sitting behind some deep dark closet like rooms somewhere storeys below the Potomac and the delta. So how does Aafia Siddiqui play into all of this? Well for this strategy to work the right wingers will tip the balance and then the ethnonationalists will bring the entire edifice down.
Ofcourse this is just a wild theory as to the motive behind such action but one thing is quite clear – the powers that be are deliberately allowing the Aafia Siddiqui situation to become something it is not. Aafia Siddiqui did claim to work for ISI and for a whole lot of other agencies during her trial. Who is working for who is now a question the answer to which is lost in the many many knots tied in this case. One thing is abundantly clear though: Aafia Siddiqui was not an innocent mother of three driving to the airport one day when she was snatched. That is a figment of the media’s wild imagination.
The best course of action is for Pakistani government to provide Aafia Siddiqui the best possible defence to the government’s fullest satisfaction right upto the US Supreme Court. Second the Pakistan government must constitute at once a fact finding committee – with one high court justice of towering reputation and impartiality as its head- which should then provide a conclusive report on where Aafia Siddiqui was , after thoroughly investigating both Siddiqui in the US and her son here in Pakistan, The roles of Fawzia Siddiqui and Yvonne Ridley must be investigated in detail as these two women have quite clearly withheld key information pertinent to this case. Third, the Pakistan government and the US government must leave no stone unturned in finding her children.
And last but not the least the report, whatever its findings, must be made public.