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Viewing cable 10ISLAMABAD345, WIDESPREAD CONDEMNATION OF DR. AAFIA SIDDIQUI,S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10ISLAMABAD345 2010-02-12 13:01 2010-11-30 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Islamabad
VZCZCXRO2459
PP RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #0345/01 0431305
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121305Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7350
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 1485
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2413
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 6092
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 7566
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 8509
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 2902
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4179
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0707
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0132
Friday, 12 February 2010, 13:05
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 000345 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
EO 12958 DECL: 10/06/2019 
TAGS PGOV, PREL, PTER, PREF, EAID, PK 
SUBJECT: WIDESPREAD CONDEMNATION OF DR. AAFIA SIDDIQUI,S 
GUILTY VERDICT
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson for reasons 1.4 (b) (d)
1. (U) Summary: The guilty verdict against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY sparked protests and public condemnation across Pakistan on February 4 and 5. The reaction to the Siddiqui verdict was front-page news in all the major newspapers. A number of press articles condemned the U.S. and blamed the verdict on anti-Muslim bias. Criticism was also directed at the Government of Pakistan (GOP) for failing to do more to secure the return of Siddiqui and for its allegedly muted response to the verdict. The Pakistani Government promised to do all that was necessary to secure her release and return her to Pakistan, including providing further legal assistance. The Afghan Taliban issued a statement threatening to execute a captured U.S. soldier if Siddiqui was not released. During a meeting with the DCM and POLOFF on February 8, a group of moderate Muslim religious leaders expressed dismay at the verdict and requested that President Obama step in and release Siddiqui. End Summary.
2. (C) The guilty verdict against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has sparked public protests and condemnation of the U.S. The response to the verdict has resurrected familiar allegations that Dr. Siddiqui was kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence agencies and the FBI, unlawfully detained by the U.S. in Afghanistan, and physically and mentally abused by American soldiers. (Note: Shortly after Siddiqui was arrested by Afghan authorities in 2008, Ambassador and POLCON met with HRCP Chairman Asma Jehangir who speculated that Siddiqui may have been held by ISI since the time of her disappearance in 2003. Jehangir aslo specualted that she could have gone underground which would also explain her absence from 2003 to 2008. End Note) A number of newspaper articles have criticized the U.S. as anti-Muslim and a violator of human rights, accused the Pakistani government of kowtowing to the U.S., and called on Pakistan to end its cooperation with the USG in fighting terrorism.
3. (U) Senior government officials expressed disappointment at the verdict and declared that they would provide further legal assistance to Siddiqui for her appeal. According to the newspaper “Dawn,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that President Zardari was “concerned about the verdict and expressed the hope that justice will ultimately be done as the case passes through the subsequent stages in the U.S. judicial system.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said that the government was dismayed over the unexpected verdict and that its main objective was to ensure Siddiqui,s return to Pakistan. On February 9, Prime Minister Syed Yousef Raza Gilani met with Siddiqui,s mother and sister and confirmed that “the Pakistani government will continue to extend diplomatic, legal and moral support to Siddiqui,” according to the “Dawn” newspaper.
4. (U) Both the government and the NGO community spoke out against the verdict. In addition to the USG, much of the anger was directed at the GOP for its failure to secure Siddiqui,s release. Protests were held in various cities and towns across Pakistan. Jamaat-e-Islam (JI) women activists demonstrated outside the party,s headquarters in Mansoora. In Islamabad, Pakistan,s Professional Forum (PPF), along with other civil society groups, staged a protest against Siddiqui,s “illegal detention.” These protestors claimed that only Pakistani courts had jurisdiction over this case and accused the government of not doing enough to secure her release. On February 5, the Punjab Provincial Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution expressing solidarity with Siddiqui and her family and called on the federal government to provide all diplomatic and legal support to her case. The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) passed a resolution “condemning the decision and the  indifferent attitude of the Pakistani Government,, towards the case.” Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary Raja Zulqarnain also criticized the verdict and repeated similar accusations that the U.S., rather than a champion of human rights, was a violator of human rights.
5. (U) The Afghan Taliban demanded Siddiqui,s release and
ISLAMABAD 00000345 002 OF 002
threatened to execute a U.S. soldier they are holding. In a statement to a local Pakistani paper, “The News,” an Afghan Taliban spokesman claimed that Siddiqui,s family had approached the Afghan Taliban seeking their support in pressuring the USG. In Karachi, Siddiqui,s family held a press conference in which they called on the GOP to pressure the USG by shutting down the supply routes for NATO troops in Afghanistan. Appearing on TV talk shows on February 4, Siddiqui,s mother and sister repeated claims that Siddiqui is innocent and is in poor health due to the suffering she has endured throughout her ordeal. They accused the GOP of “doing nothing” and requested that the government pressure the USG to release her.
6. (SBU) During a meeting with DCM and POLOFFs on February 8, a group of moderate Muslim religious leaders expressed very strong feelings about the Siddiqui case and the guilty verdict. The religious leaders were unified in their belief that Siddiqui did not receive a fair trial and called for mercy on the grounds that she was a woman. They claimed that the verdict detracted from President Obama,s efforts to reach out to the Muslim community and that he should step in and release Siddiqui as a show of good faith towards the world,s Muslims. The US Embassy representatives pushed back noting that Siddiqui had receieved a fair trail in the U.S., was given every opportunity to present evidence in her own defense, and was convicted by a jury. Moreover, Siddiqui has the right to appeal her conviction. Nevertheless, the Pakastani participants were assured that their views and concerns would be communicated to Washington.
7. (SBU) Comment: The Siddiqui case has from its outset elicited a strong, emotional response among the Pakistani public, and has regularly been raised with us by senior Pakistani officials. Many Pakistanis were undoubtedly taken by surprise by the verdict as one-sided media coverage of the case reported only her defense and not the prosecution’s case, leading local observers to conclude her acquital was a near certainty. We expect this issue to persist for some time as a nationalistic cause with the active involvement of the JI who never tire of anti-American agitation. PATTERSON