September 28, 2010

Turning Her into a Hero

Clamoring for justice, Aafia Siddiqui.
While I am not a judge of who Aafia Siddiqui really is or isn’t, some of her case’s parameters do make me raise my eyebrows. By the US prosecution’s own admission, there are a lot of discrepancies to her case; and besides, the principal charge on which we all assumed she was being tried (relating to terrorism) wasn’t even called into question by the prosecution. So in essence, she has been sentenced to 86 years in prison on the charge of attempt to murder.

So the logical question that follows next is: Where in the world do you charge people for 3 life sentences for attempt to murder? More importantly, how is it even possible for a US judge to charge a third country’s citizen in US courts when the purported act committed was not on the United States’ soil?

All I know is that the US hasn’t been forthcoming with the answers that would have led to an early dispensation of the case, and the surrounding hype. Instead, they’ve only ended up stoking the sentiments of the political bandwagon that has become very active since the sentencing of Aafia Siddiqui.

The moral brigade amongst us has assumed that Aafia Siddiqui is innocent and that she was a gullible kid sold to the Americans. However, that is equal to negating the very concept of the whole judicial process. Strong circumstantial evidence connects Aafia Siddiqui to terrorist outfits and for what it’s worth, she hasn’t denied the pretence either. So for all those who think that Aafia Siddiqui is the daughter of the soil, I’m assuming you think Faisal Shehzad is the son of the soil then?

The inconvenient truth is, and one which we will have to accept sooner or later is that, as far as the United States is concerned, Aafia Siddiqui is a closed case. She was implicated and then charged and for all we know, she will spend the rest of her life in a prison cell in the United States. Maybe it was a gross miscarriage of justice, or maybe it was a spot-on, just decision; all we know is, Aafia Siddiqui has been lost to the US prison system forever now.

For quite a few many days, the Aafia Brigade will hold vigils, organize protests, chant anti-US slogans, and then they will all disperse and get on with their lives. Aafia Siddiqui will be forgotten just like the hundreds and thousands of men, women and children before her. She will just become another statistic. What is important to note here is that once again the Pakistani political arena is ringing with clemency pleas to Barack Hussain Obama, because that means garnering the support of the public; and the political parties are doing quite a good job of it too.

Over here I would also like to point out that contrary to what the majority of Pakistanis believe, Aafia Siddiqui is NOT a neuroscientist, and nor does she have ‘144 honorary degrees from different universities of the world’. She has a PhD in education and that is why she is called a doctor. Fauzia Siddiqui (Aafia Siddiqui’s sister) herself has stated this fact on national television.

Whatever the case, there are other things that are happening here, right now, at this very instance, that we have the power and ability to stop. Maybe it’s time now to start focusing on our shortcomings at home rather that chant the mantra of Aafia Siddiqui over and over again.