After a prolonged struggle at national and international forum, the US administration has agreed to release imprisoned Dr Aafia Siddiqi serving 86-year jail term for allegedly grabbing a US soldier’s M-4 assault rifle in an attempt to shoot a group of FBI agents and soldiers at an Afghan police compound in July 2008, a charge she consistently denied during the trial. But as the tradition has it, nothing comes from the US without strings. Attached to the offer of her extradition is the condition that Pakistan sign prisoner swap agreement, after which she could serve the remaining part of her term in Pakistan. It is expected that in return for Dr Aafia’s shifting to Pakistan, Washington may demand release of Dr Shakil Afridi being held for collaborating in Abbottabad operation by US SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of Pakistan Foreign Office has confirmed that the US offer of signing prisoner swap agreement after which both the countries would release prisoners from their jails. The diplomatic observers believe that the US informed Islamabad that the only legal way for the extradition of Dr Aafia Siddiqi was to sign prisoner swap agreement with the Washington. The US offer cited two relevant treaties – European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had been taking keen interest in securing release of Dr Afia because of pressure to get her custody especially in the view of the fact that Raymond Davis, who killed two Pakistani nationals in broad daylight but was quietly whisked away back to the US. For this purpose Ch Nisar constituted a task force that met on July 3 to review the provisions of the proposed agreement.
Source: The Nation