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Aafia Siddiqui's Son Released to His Aunt
Pakistani rights activist lauds deposed top judge for taking up issue
Ghulam Hussain (hussain)     Print Article 
Published 2008-09-16 08:10 (KST)   
Pakistani authorities handed over the son of Aafia Siddiqui to her younger sister on Monday evening. Aafia Siddiqui is in US custody in New York City and faces charges of attacking her American investigators in Afghanistan.

According to exclusive footage aired on the Express News television channel, Interior Ministry officials accompanied by a police team released Muhammad Ahmed to Fauzia Siddiqui at 9:10 p.m. local time at her residence in Islamabad. Overcome with emotion Siddiqui repeatedly hugged and kissed her nephew.

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Earlier on Monday, the Afghanistan government reportedly handed over custody of Ahmed to Pakistani authorities in Kabul after a meeting between the country's officials. Reports said that an official of the Afghan Interior Ministry, Daud Panjsheri, handed over Muhammad Ahmed to Pakistani Ambassador Asif Durrani.

US officials claim to have arrested Aafia Siddiqui and her three children from Ghazni in 2003. But Siddiqui's family says she disappeared along with her children on the way to the Karachi Airport on March 30, 2003, where she was to catch a flight to Rawalpindi. It is believed that she was picked up by Pakistani intelligence officials and later handed over to US authorities in Afghanistan.

Her mother alleges that an intelligence agency official had come to her house a week after her daughter's disappearance to warn her not to make an issue out of the disappearance, threatening her with dire consequences. The Pakistan government as well as US officials in Washington have denied any knowledge of Aafia Siddiqui's custody.

Another of her three children has reportedly died. There was no information about her daughter and whether she would be handed over to Pakistani officials.

The Pakistani officials brought Ahmed to Pakistan by the first available flight from Kabul. He was taken to Islamabad from the airport by helicopter. The boy was first shifted to the Foreign Ministry and then handed over to Interior Ministry officials, who later handed him over to his aunt.

Commenting on the matter, Iqbal Haider, co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that the disappearance of Aafia Siddiqui was one of the heinous crimes committed by the Musharraf-led regime.

He said the sitting government, however, cooperated in tracing the whereabouts of Aafia Siddiqui and her son. He paid tribute to former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for taking notice of the missing persons case and said that his action led to the discovery of Aafia Siddiqui and her son's whereabouts.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ghulam Hussain

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