News Analysis: Pakistanis show rare unity to criticize U.S. court verdict
Saturday, September 25, 2021 4:51 AM

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ISLAMABAD, Sep. 25, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Pakistanis have taken to the streets across the country in recent days to criticize a United States court verdict to hand down 86-year jail term to a Pakistani neuroscientist, in which a widespread anti-American feeling emerges in Pakistan, experts say.

On Thursday, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was convicted after a jury trial in a U.S. federal court, of assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan's Ghazni province. Many in Pakistan do not believe in the U.S. prosecution's claim of the charges that also include carrying two pounds of deadly poison, a computer thumb drive, and descriptions of New York City landmarks, including the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.

The charges carried a maximum sentence of life in prison and she was sentenced to 86 years in prison. It is still a mystery that how Siddiqui disappeared with her three young children in March 2003 from Karachi, shortly after the arrest of her second husband's uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Khalid, facing trial at Guantanamo prison, is the alleged chief planner of the September 11 attacks. Siddiqui was added to the FBI Seeking Information - War on Terrorism list in 2003, which stated that although the Bureau had no specific information connecting Siddiqui to terrorism, it wanted to locate and question her.

In July 2008, she was arrested in Afghanistan outside the compound of the governor of Ghazni Province, on suspicion of being a suicide bomber.

Siddiqui family categorically rejected charges against her and alleged that the former government of President Pervez Musharraf had handed her over to the U.S..

The people of Pakistan may not know the real story of Siddiqui disappearance and her alleged attempt to attack the American nationals in Afghanistan.

But the U.S. court's conviction of Siddiqui has sparked wave of strike across Pakistan and the process will continue as announced by Siddiqui families and opposition and Islamist groups.

The U.S. court verdict was also felt by Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, who used his speech in the Senate on Friday to come up with offer to exchange American prisoners for the release of Siddiqui to cool down the already charged Pakistani environment.

Siddiqui's conviction will not only take the anti-American sentiments to a high level but will also create political problems for the Pakistani government which may affect the war on terror. The U.S.-Pakistan partnership is critical in addressing global terrorist threats. But according to the experts the partnership is threatened by already anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, a country the U.S. needs to succeed its war on terror in al-Qaida and Taliban.

The U.S. has already had trust deficit in Pakistan over the U.S. drone strikes on militants in Pakistan's tribal areas and Siddiqui issue will lead to widespread anti- American feeling in Pakistan, experts believed.

Washington had been trying to win hearts of the people in its rescue and relief operations in the flood-hit areas of Pakistan but the jail term handed down to Siddiqui will overshadow the American efforts.

The U.S. had tried to take advantage of the floods devastation and go directly to the people of Pakistan and it had done to some extent in the insurgents-hit Swat valley after the July's floods. But sensitivity of Siddiqui case has washed away all American trust-build efforts in Pakistan.

Many Pakistani believe that their government had rendered unprecedented sacrifices for the U.S. in the war on terror since 2001. They recall that Islamabad has even arrested and handed over many foreign militants, including several top al-Qaida operatives to the U.S. but the American administration did not extradite only one Pakistani lady Dr. Aafia Siddiqui despite requests by the people and the government.

This thinking may prove a major blow to the American efforts to fill the already huge trust gap between the people of Pakistan and the U.S. as majority in Pakistan strongly believe that Washington has always used the Islamic Republic for its own objectives.

 

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