On February 3, 2010, a New York court convicted Aafia, an innocent Pakistani woman, mother of three children including an infant. The charge against her was an ATTEMPT to kill Americans. Though there was NO evidence of any such incident, nor any forensic evidence, yet she was rendered (illegally whisked to the United States ignoring all international conventions) and sentenced to 86 years in prison and is being kept in total isolation. The trial was framed by Judge Richard Berman in a way that there would be no mention of her kidnapping from Karachi in 2003 or any mention of Aafia and her three children being held and tortured in secret prisons (all horrific crimes such as rape, water boarding, using threats to children in torture, etc., committed by her captors that included the USA). The Premier of Pakistan declared her the “Daughter of the Nation".
Almost exactly a year later, an American mercenary who killed two Pakistani youths in broad daylight and his friends who proceeded to kill another Pakistani in an effort to help him escape to the US consulate.
In this case, those who proclaimed the Rule of Law used every trick in the book to avoid that same Rule of Law. Those who claim to champion human rights, scrambled to figure out how to turn a cold blooded killer into a wronged victim. Those who were too cowardly to even write a single letter for someone they called “Daughter of the Nation” worked overtime to subvert the laws of the nation whose people they swore to serve and manipulated an Islamic law of diyat (the same “Islam” that America hates so much and calls barbaric). “They” pressured the poor victims' families, forced them to sell their blood and whisk away a cold blooded murderer. This resulted in the deceased poor pregnant wife’s death in despair for no amount of money can bring back her husband or a father to her unborn child. It also resulted in mysterious deaths of the entire heirs who were to receive the blood money. One need not wonder why.
A country that seeks prides in dignity and honour has been cursed with unforgivable leaders that ridicule its basic Islamic principles and continue to lead the country down a path of disgrace and chaos. An Honorable national leader would have taken this opportunity and brought back its Aafia in exchange, “at least you make a deal you make with honour”; but the desire to further embellish their offshore accounts was the priority for Pakistan’s leadership.
Now, again, 8 years later the month of April another US Embassy attaché Col. Joseph commits cold blooded murder, allegedly while driving illegally under influence of alcohol, ran a red light and slammed into a motorcyclist, a young man named Ateeq and his passenger. Ateeq died on the spot and his companion was severely injured. To Pakistanis, it was “de ja vu”, Raymond Davis 2.0
Of course now, there is talk of diplomatic protocol and the Vienna Convention. Well, where was this Vienna convention when Aafia was picked up from Pakistan and in Ghazni? Where were her consular rights (Article 36 of the Vienna convention)? Where was this convention when her children were being tortured? Wherewere these treaties when she was rendered and tried in The Us? But she was a Pakistani. This man, of course, is not.
When did the Vienna convention become a one way treaty? Or maybe it always was. Maybe all treaties are. So why do we have them or need them? So the rich and powerful can get away with anything?
We are again watching an attempt to turn a ruthless killer into a wronged victim, while innocents are left to rot in jail and sleep in unmarked graves.
Pakistan is a resource rich, proud and generous nation that has been brought to its knees by an addiction to foreign aid, social hypocrisy and distrust of each other. We demand respect from others. we need to recognized this smoldering acid to overcome this.
Aafia had given us the litmus test. Elections are again around the corner. Col. Joseph has just renewed the challenge and with a taunt. Now we can all see clearly where each of us stands, where our leaders stand, where our judges stand, where our liberals stand, where our conservatives stand. We can clearly see what value each group places on a Pakistani life.
The value of a Pakistani life is central to our existence in the world today. We are a punching bag for everyone around the world, a convenient target for blaming all ills. Our religion, our culture, our resilience and our honor are ridiculed and we let it happen. Our Pathan families are droned and killed, and we blame them not the killers. Balochistan burns and we blame them not the culprits; Karachi is in flames and we blame muhajirs but not the political mercenaries. Aafia and hundreds like her are sold, rendition, and tortured. But we turn away, grateful that it is not “us”. Well, maybe not today. We must remember that all those people are part of us. Whether we like it or not, this is our family, complete with the beautiful and the ugly.
To those Pakistanis who doubt Aafia, she is still one of you and you are one of us. How she is treated and how we stand up for her will define the level of respect we earn. Just look at what the Americas did for their Raymond and now their Colonel Joseph. They are open murderers, but they are their citizens and they are fighting for them.
On this anniversary of Aafia’s conviction, that wound is still deep and fresh. God has given us momentum. I do not know His purpose but somehow Aafia’s fate is intertwined with our motherland in a way that justifies her being called the “Daughter of the Nation”. She offers a unifying theme that transcends political, ethnic and religious differences. She is an issue that will not go away.
On this day Col Joseph reminds us again of how little respect we command and how little our leaders care and how openly they lie. Raymond and Col Joseph showed the same “wild west” mentality as the US officer who shot Aafia in 2008, and got away, locking Aafia up instead.
Aafia Movement is founded on principle, not politics. Its goal is to unify the nation behind a simple cause – Bring Aafia back home with honor. When we learn to rise for the honor of our daughter we will have risen for our honor. When our bureaucrats and politicians will look beyond themselves towards the nation they swear to protect and the constitution they claim to uphold, not only will Aafia be back but the world will see the Pakistani flag with a renewed respect.
How the government returns Col. Joseph, whether with a diplomatic hand shake, blood money or with an honorable exchange with Aafia, will indeed determine our destiny. Will we continue to be disgraced? Will we continue to give Americans a licence to kill and make Pakistanis pay for their actions? Will our Chief Justice take a suo-moto action on this? Will the tehreek for justice do a sit in? Will the islami parties rally for this? Indeed a litmus test it is
“FA-A TABIRU YA ULIL ABSAR” (A Lesson to learn for those with insight)