View Full Version : What are your opinions on Aafia Siddiqui?

24 Sep 10,, 18:06
I've been reading many forums about her as well as news articles.

It seems that just about every islamic/pakistan forum/news article claims she was tortured/raped/all that stuff since 2003 and is mis-tried recently.

And just about all of the other medias claim she was only caught in 08.

What I have noticed is that those for her release claim the trial used nothing more than testimonies while citing testimonies of inmates from Guantanamo about her supposed torture since 2003...

So... what are your opinions? What evidence(non-testimonial) do people have for or against her release?


24 Sep 10,, 18:13
Post a news article about this or something so everyone like me who is unfamiliar with the issue knows what you're talking about. Cheers.

24 Sep 10,, 18:31
Post a news article about this or something so everyone like me who is unfamiliar with the issue knows what you're talking about. Cheers.

Scientist convicted of trying to kill Americans - U.S. news - Security - msnbc.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35220772)

NEW YORK A U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist was convicted Wednesday of charges that she tried to kill Americans while detained in Afghanistan in 2008, shouting with a raised arm as jurors left the courtroom: "This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America."

A jury deliberated three days in federal court in Manhattan before finding Aafia Siddiqui guilty in the third week of her attempted murder trial, which she often interrupted with rambling courtroom outbursts.

After declaring the verdict came from Israel, she turned toward spectators in the packed courtroom and said: "Your anger should be directed where it belongs. I can testify to this and I have proof."

Siddiqui, 37, was convicted of attempted murder, though the crime was not found by the jury to be premeditated. She was also convicted of armed assault, using and carrying a firearm, and assault of U.S. officers and employees.

Before her arrest, U.S. authorities had called Siddiqui an al-Qaida sympathizer. She was never charged with terrorism, but prosecutors called her a grave threat who was carrying bomb-making instructions and a list of New York City landmarks including the Statue of Liberty when she was captured.

The defendant a spindly neuroscience specialist who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University "is no shrinking violet," Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher La Vigne said in closing arguments.

"She does what she wants when she wants it," he said. "These charges are no joke. People almost died."
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'Just ridiculous'
Testifying in her own defense, Siddiqui claimed she had been tortured and held in a "secret prison" before her detention. Charges that she attacked U.S. personnel who wanted to interrogate her were "crazy," she said. "It's just ridiculous."

In court, Siddiqui veiled her head and face with a white scarf and often sat slumped in her chair. She openly sparred with the judge and her own lawyers, insisted she could single-handedly bring peace to the Middle East and lashed out at witnesses in tirades that got her kicked out of the courtroom.

"I was never planning a bombing! You're lying!" she yelled while an Army captain testified.

In her closing argument, defense attorney Linda Moreno accused the prosecutors of trying to play on the jury's fears.

"They want to scare you into convicting Aafia Siddiqui," she said. "The defense trusts that you're much smarter than that."

During the two-week trial, FBI agents and U.S. soldiers testified that when they went to interrogate Siddiqui at an Afghan police station, she snatched up an unattended assault rifle and shot at them while yelling, "Death to Americans." She was wounded by return fire but recovered and was brought to the United States to face charges attempted murder, assault and gun charges.

'Aiming dead at me'
A chief warrant officer, who testified in uniform but did not give his name, told jurors he had set down his M4 rifle after being told Siddiqui had been restrained. He testified he was shocked when she suddenly appeared from behind a curtain wielding his M4 rifle and yelling, "Allah akbar," Arabic for "God is great."

"It was pretty amazing she got that thing up and squared off," he said. "She was looking at me and aiming dead at me."

Hearing the rifle go off, the officer said he followed his military training and pulled his pistol. Siddiqui was wrestling with an interpreter when he shot her in the stomach.

"I operated within the rules of engagement to eliminate the threat," he said.

The defense told jurors there was no ballistic, fingerprint or other physical evidence proving the weapon was "touched by Dr. Siddiqui, let alone fired by her."

Siddiqui testified she was shot shortly after she poked her head around a curtain to see if there was a way she might slip out of the room where she was being held. She said she was desperate to escape because she feared being returned to a secret prison.

"I wanted to get out. ... I was afraid," she said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

24 Sep 10,, 20:05
Thanks, CR...

24 Sep 10,, 21:16
The fact that she married into a terrorist family and than decided to take her kids on the same path is good enough for me. She could've stayed in the US with her kids if all she wanted to do was live a normal life, work hard, give her kids a good education, etc, etc. But rather, she moved back to Pakistan bringing her kids into the fold of her terrorist linked family and their intolerant ideology. And to top it all off, she was arrested in Afghanistan, not Pakistan. Going from such a prominent profession in the US to Pakistan and than to Afghanistan; I have little doubt over her ideology or even motives. Most people who want to work hard and strive in life, usually take the opposite route; she chose to walk into a terrorist hub herself, so it only shows which way she was leaning towards and I have no sympathies for her. May she rot in jail for the rest of her life. Cheers!

24 Sep 10,, 23:26
A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. She was proven guilty in a Court of Law, which means that there was credible evidence against her. Doesn't matter whether she is a female or a "scientist", let her rot in prison. Ideally speaking, she should rot in a prison in a third world country...

25 Sep 10,, 01:24
From the description of the trial, I think an "insanity plea" is just around the corner

25 Sep 10,, 06:10
Why didn't that Chief Warrant Officer shoot her in the head instead of the stomach?

Officer of Engineers
25 Sep 10,, 06:22
Why didn't that Chief Warrant Officer shoot her in the head instead of the stomach?Captain, centre of mass. You and I would have done the same thing.

25 Sep 10,, 19:18
Sir, I thought the chest area would be better and more painful. Pneumothorax or Haemothorax is extremely painful and fatal....

25 Sep 10,, 23:59
Till death she doth rot: Judge gave Lady Al Qaeda right sentence for terror - a long one

Saturday, September 25th 2010, 4:00 AM
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Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Berman set a terrific benchmark for sentencing Islamist fanatics: He slammed Aafia Siddiqui, the infamous Lady Al Qaeda, with 86 years in prison.

A Pakistani-born, MIT-trained scientist, Siddiqui tried to kill U.S. soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan after they arrested her for interrogation in a plot to explode a dirty bomb in an American city.

She was found with 2 pounds of sodium cyanide, papers on biological warfare and a possible list of targets, including the Empire State Building.

During her detention, she grabbed an assault rifle and opened fire on U.S. military personnel and FBI agents. They disarmed her without injury.

Tried in Manhattan Federal Court as a civilian, not an enemy combatant, Siddiqui made a circus of the proceedings. Defense lawyers cited her behavior as proof Siddiqui was insane and had done no more than flip out on a stressful day.

Berman had none of it. He piled federal sentencing guideline on federal sentencing guideline to sock Siddiqui. He cited her assault as a terrorist act and awarded extra time on the grounds that the attack was a hate crime, that she had targeted government officials and that she obstructed justice by lying in court.

The sentence isn't sitting well in Siddiqui's native Pakistan, where she is viewed as a hero of the anti-American cause. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has said, "We want the daughter of the nation to come back to Pakistan." Not for 86 years, she won't.

Berman's sentence was a welcome departure from too much leniency in too many terror cases:

Jose Padilla, a trained jihadist with dreams of mass murder, wanted to set off a dirty bomb. He got 17 years for a lighter charge of supporting terrorism.

Radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, who passed messages to terrorists from imprisoned blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, got 10 years - only after an appeals court refused to accept 28 months.

David Hicks is an Australian who trained with Al Qaeda and fought for the Taliban against coalition forces until he was captured by Americans. He served seven years at Guantanamo and is now living free in Australia.

Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi was an accountant and cook for Osama Bin Laden who helped him escape capture in Afghanistan. He was sentenced to 14 years, but a plea bargain will likely reduce that time drastically.

Salim Hamdan was Bin Laden's personal driver and bodyguard. He got 5-1/2 years, with time served taken into account.

Berman gave Siddiqui what they all deserved.

Read more: Till death she doth rot: Judge gave Lady Al Qaeda right sentence for terror - a long one (http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/09/25/2010-09-25_till_death_she_doth_rot.html#ixzz10a5gjeH2)

'Lady al Qaeda' sentenced to 86 years in prison
By Thomas JoscelynSeptember 24, 2010


"Lady al Qaeda" Aafia Siddiqui, from her wanted poster.

A New York court sentenced Aafia Siddiqui, who has been dubbed “Lady al Qaeda” by the press, to 86 years in prison yesterday. Siddiqui’s sentence follows her conviction on charges related to an incident in July 2008, when she tried to kill American personnel in Afghanistan. Siddiqui grabbed a gun and reportedly opened fire on the Americans, who were trying to question her.

Siddiqui was one of the most wanted women in the world prior to her capture. American authorities learned that Siddiqui was intimately involved in al Qaeda’s plotting more than five years earlier.

In March 2003, the FBI issued a “Seeking Information Alert” for Siddiqui. The alert was issued after 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (“KSM”) identified Siddiqui as a key al Qaeda facilitator during questioning.

KSM was captured on March 1, 2003, and initially resisted questioning, according to the CIA’s account. He was then subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, which have been the subject of much controversy. According to declassified CIA documents, KSM then became the US government’s “preeminent source” on al Qaeda.

In a cover story published in June 2003, Newsweek reported, relying on FBI documents, that KSM told his interrogators that Siddiqui was supposed to assist “other AQ operatives as they entered the United States.” Among them was an al Qaeda operative named Majid Khan, who attempted to enter the US from Pakistan. Khan had lived in the US with his family for a decade, but his residency had lapsed. In an attempt to dupe immigration authorities into believing that Khan was still an active resident, Siddiqui rented a P.O. box in Khan’s name.

Al Qaeda planned to have Khan enter the US and then blow up gas stations on the East Coast. Khan had worked at gas stations owned by his family in the Baltimore area, and KSM figured that Khan could put his knowledge of the facilities to al Qaeda’s use. Khan never got a chance to launch the attack, however. He was arrested just a few days after KSM in March 2003.

Siddiqui’s involvement in al Qaeda’s plotting was directed by her second husband, Ali Abd al Aziz Ali (aka Ammar al Baluchi), who is one of KSM’s nephews. Ammar al Baluchi was intimately involved in the 9/11 plot, al Qaeda’s attempts to launch a second attack against the US Homeland in 2002 and 2003, and also a plot against the US consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Al Baluchi and Siddiqui, who was divorced from her first husband in 2002, married shortly before al Baluchi himself was detained in Pakistan in April 2003.

KSM, Ammar al Baluchi, and Majid Khan are all currently detained at Guantanamo. They were among the 14 high-value terrorists transferred to Gitmo from CIA detention facilities in 2006.

According to a biography of al Baluchi released by Department of Defense, al Baluchi directed Siddiqui “to travel to the United States to prepare paperwork to ease Majid Khan’s deployment to the United States” in 2002.

In March 2003, the same month Siddiqui was identified by KSM and the FBI released its alert, several other members of KSM’s network inside the US and elsewhere were identified. Declassified documents produced by the CIA reveal that all of them were identified during KSM’s interrogations.

Iyman Faris, an Ohio-based truck driver who was really an al Qaeda sleeper agent, was arrested on March 19, 2003. KSM tasked Faris with exploring a number of attacks, including the possibility of cutting the Brooklyn Bridge’s cables with gas cutters and derailing commuter trains.

Faris concluded that the Brooklyn Bridge plot would not work, and was exploring other types of attacks at the time of his capture. While in the FBI’s custody in 2003, Faris reportedly acted as a double-agent, allowing US authorities to uncover other al Qaeda-trained terrorists. Faris was subsequently convicted of providing material support to al Qaeda and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

On March 20, 2003, the FBI released a “Be on the Lookout” alert for Adnan el Shukrijumah. KSM identified Shukrijumah as a key al Qaeda terrorist who was likely to lead an attack on the US. Shukrijumah had lived in Florida, but may have been outside the US at the time. In any event, authorities failed to locate him. At some point, Shukrijumah made his way to northern Pakistan and today he is part of al Qaeda’s external operations wing. That is, he is tasked with plotting attacks against the US Homeland.

Shukrijumah was reportedly involved in al Qaeda’s plot against New York City commuter trains in 2009. [See LWJ report: Al Qaeda sleeper agent tied to 2009 NYC subway plot.]

On March 28, 2003, Uzair Paracha, a native Pakistani, was detained by the FBI in New York City. Uzair worked at an import-export company owned by his father, Saifullah Paracha, in the garment district of Manhattan. KSM told his interrogators that al Qaeda intended to use the Parachas’ business to smuggle explosives into the US for Majid Khan and other al Qaeda operatives to use in their attacks.

A key to the P.O. box rented by Siddiqui was found in Uzair's apartment.

Uzair Paracha was subsequently convicted of providing material support to al Qaeda and sentenced to 30 years in a US prison. Saifullah was captured in Thailand in July 2003 and eventually transported to Gitmo, where he remains today. Declassified documents produced at Gitmo reveal that Saifullah met and conspired and with senior al Qaeda members, including Osama bin Laden. Saifullah allowed al Qaeda to use the services of a media company he owned, and also held onto large sums of cash for KSM.

In the months that followed, terrorist cells in Southeast Asia, Pakistan, and elsewhere were broken up based on intelligence supplied by KSM. Siddiqui went on the lam, evading capture until July 17, 2008, when she was arrested by the Afghan National Police in Ghazni, Afghanistan.

According to an indictment prepared by US prosecutors, Siddiqui had “various documents, various chemicals, and a computer thumb drive, among other things” in her possession when she was arrested. Handwritten notes she was carrying referred to a “mass casualty attack” and listed “various locations in the United States, including Plum Island, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the Brooklyn Bridge.”

In addition, according to the indictment, “certain notes referred to the construction of ‘dirty bombs,’ chemical and biological weapons, and other explosives.” The notes “discussed mortality rates associated with certain of these weapons and explosives.”

Still other notes “referred to various ways to attack ‘enemies,’ including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs, and using gliders.”

Siddiqui’s computer thumb drive contained contained “correspondence that referred to specific ‘cells’ and ‘attacks’ by certain ‘cells’,” as well as documents discussing “recruitment and training.”

The notes and documents in Siddiqui’s possession reveal that she was most likely still involved in al Qaeda’s plotting against the US Homeland at the time of her capture. She apparently did not give up, even though many of her co-conspirators had been rolled up following KSM’s detention.

Prosecutors decided to focus only on Siddiqui’s attempted murder of American personnel in Afghanistan in July 2008. While the exact reason is not known, prosecutors have avoided dragging the CIA and its intelligence into the courtroom when possible. It is likely that they determined it was easier to convict Siddiqui of attempted murder.

That does not change the fact that Siddiqui was part of KSM’s terror network and continued to plot with her fellow al Qaeda members long after her arrest.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/09/lady_al_qaeda_senten.php#ixzz10a77mIV6

28 Sep 10,, 17:54
Pakistan leaving no stone unturned to bring Aafia home

Monday, 27 Sep, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Monday it would leave “no stone unturned” in trying to bring home a woman scientist sentenced to 86 years in jail by a US court.

A New York court on Thursday found Aafia Siddiqui, a once brilliant scientist dubbed “Lady Qaeda” by US tabloids, guilty of the attempted murder of US military officers in Afghanistan in 2008 -- five years after she disappeared.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to bring her back. We are following both legal and political approaches to get her back,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told a news conference.

He added that the government was concerned about the 38-year old neuroscientist's mental and physical condition and was considering appealing on behalf of Siddiqui's mother and sister to President Barack Obama to pardon her.

“We are concerned about Dr Siddiqui's living conditions and we would like her not to be transferred to the federal prison,” he said.

“We are writing a letter to the US authorities to know about her health and mental condition.”The case of Siddiqui, a mother of three who trained at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University, has been condemned across the nuclear-armed Muslim nation of 167 million.

Thousands of people staged protest rallies across the country on Friday demanding her release. The protesters chanted anti-US slogans and burned US flags and effigies of President Barack Obama.

Soon after the verdict the Pakistan government said it would petition Washington to secure her repatriation on humanitarian grounds.

“Our goal is to bring back Dr Siddiqui. They (her family) have asked us to take up the matter with the OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) and the UN Secretary General,” Malik said.

“We agree with them that the right of self-defence has not been given to Dr Siddiqui. We would like that this should be reconsidered and the matter related to mistrial be examined,” he said.

Siddiqui, 38, was found guilty of grabbing a rifle at an Afghan police station where she was being interrogated in 2008 and of trying to shoot US servicemen.

Prosecutors said she picked up the weapon and opened fire on servicemen and FBI representatives trying to take her into detention. She missed and in a struggle was herself shot by one of the US soldiers.

Defence lawyers argued there was no physical evidence, such as fingerprints or gunpowder traces, to show Siddiqui even grabbed the rifle.

Siddiqui's lawyers have said they will appeal her sentence and her family vowed to launch a “movement” to get her released from jail.


29 Sep 10,, 23:04
Beyond Aafia
by Sana Saleem on 09 28th, 2010 | Comments (84)
Beyond Aafia
The Dawn Blog Blog Archive Beyond Aafia (http://blog.dawn.com/2010/09/28/beyond-aafia/)
For seven years now, Aafia Siddiqui’s case has remained shrouded in mystery, the ghost of Bargram has haunted Pakistan ever since. From her disappearance in Karachi to her arrest at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and throughout her trial, Siddiqui’s case has been most peculiar. On September 23, 2010 Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years of imprisonment by a US Federal Court in New York, after being convicted of firing at US troops at Bagram during custody.

Over the years, Siddiqui’s case has been used by religious and political parties for point scoring and to gain public sympathy. Soon after the verdict, the Pakistan government said it would write a petition Washington to secure her repatriation on humanitarian grounds. It can not be denied that the charges appear dubious, keeping in mind that her alleged association with al Qaeda has been on the forefront, with a considerable number of media outlets dubbing her as “Lady al Qaeda” even before her trial began. It is then strange that she was tried in court for “firing at US soldiers” instead of her alleged links and contacts with the al Qaeda. Although this does make the accusations of her links to terrorist networks murky, but is not sufficient to prove her innocence. As expected, the sentence has caused uproar and anger in Pakistan, provoking protests from religious and political parties. Yet another protest has been planned for September 28 by one of the leading political parties in Karachi, the MQM. It is tragic that even secular parties like the MQM have hopped on to the bandwagon. Ironically, religious parties like Jamaat-i-Islami who have for years supported laws like the Hudood Ordinance, have now become the upholders of women’s rights.

That said and done, one can not deny that Siddiqui has possibly become emotionally unstable and, there have been rumours that Siddiqui was being kept in a secret prison. Needless to say her story is that of tragedy, pain and agony.

However she is not alone. Hundreds of women in Pakistan face severe torture, abuse and are raped in police custody. In July 2008, a 17-year-old girl was abducted by police officials in Faisalabad, and kept in private custody for 16 days, where she was raped and tortured to confess her involvement in the murder of her fiance. But it did not end there; her elder sister was also brought into police custody in order to pressurize her younger sister to confess to the alleged crime. The details, according to the Asian Human Rights Report, are extremely disturbing and very graphic. While in police custody, she was twice raped by a sub inspector, however no action has been taken by the government to prosecute the sub inspector.

Several human rights organisations have reported incidents of people being tortured while in police custody, using methods such as “beating with batons and whips, burning with cigarettes, whipping soles of the feet, prolonged isolation, electric shock, denial of food or sleep ….”

While we raise our concerns of the torture and abuse in jails in the US, our silence on abuse in jails within our country is nothing short of hypocrisy. It is only fair that the government, political and religious parties and most importantly, the people raise their voice against injustices within our country just as much as we do against those committed abroad. Siddiqui’s case has received immense media attention, while thousands of stories of sexual abuse, rape and torture within our own country remain unheard. After all, the ghosts of our prisoners should haunt us just as much as the ghosts of Bargram, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib do.

Sana Saleem is a Features Editor at BEE magazine and blogs at Global Voices, Asian Correspondent and her personal blog Mystified Justice. She recently won the Best Activist Blogger award by CIO & Google at the Pakistan Blogger Awards. She can be found on Facebook and tweets at twitter.com/sanasaleem.

17 Oct 10,, 01:08
Dr Aafia, Faisal Shahzad are not Pakistan’s heroes
4 days ago
People are quick to blame outside forces for the crimes of fellow Pakistanis.

The Faisal Shahzad case is a Western conspiracy, and I’m an idiot for not believing it.

Why am I the idiot? Because when a US district judge passed the final sentence on the 31-year-old, condemning him to a lifetime imprisonment, I for one was glad that such a menace to society will stay behind bars until he dies.

Somehow, I know that if I say this to my fellow Pakistanis, there will be little, if any, acquiescence. Mostly, I will get expressions of bemusement or disgust, as if I’ve uttered a swear word. That will be followed by long sermons on how the entire Faisal Shahzad debacle was a case of an innocent Pakistani boy being targeted by the West to give Muslims a bad name and extend the immoral war on terror and that opinions like mine are exactly what America wants to achieve.

Yeah, it’s definitely a conspiracy, even though he has admitted his guilt from the start. Even though there are videos of him declaring war against the West. Even though he met TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsud personally and was caught on tape doing so. Even though his parting words to the judge as he left were, “Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow.”

But yeah, it’s all a conspiracy, and I’m an idiot for not believing it.

It is the same attitude that I see towards the public’s perception of neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqi, or, as she is commonly called in Pakistan, “qaum ki beti.” Her capture, incarceration and sentencing have been mired by human rights violations, maltreatment and injustice and for that I am sympathetic towards her. But somewhere along the line, she became an emblem of resistance against the brutal Americans, a rallying cry for the cruelty suffered by innocent Muslims by the imperialist swine, and a champion for the cause of Islam and indeed Pakistan, as was exemplified by a recent walkout of parliamentarians at the National Assembly.

But, wait a minute. Where did all this come from? Dr Aafia Siddiqui did not do anything to become the projection of what she is touted to be, but as word of her capture became news, the country’s ardent ‘patriots’ suddenly transformed her into a pan-Islamic super heroine!

Does anyone even care that there are some serious concerns over Dr Aafia’s alleged ties to Al-Qaeda, as confessed by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad? Does anyone care that between 2003 and 2008, she disappeared from the radar, without any explanation? That perhaps behind her pro-Muslim rantings in New York, there may be a hidden extremist agenda?

That may well be the case. But I fail to see such introspection on part of our fellow countrymen. And whenever people have mustered the courage to do so, they are made to regret their decision, because when they do, as PMLQ MNA Marvi Memon found out, the reaction is just explosive. Once again the sermons follow, placing the US as once again the harbinger of chaos and doom, which arrested and tortured an innocent Pakistani to once again subvert our nation under the throes of its might. And we as Pakistanis must rally to her cause. She is the “qaum ki beti” after all.

Personifying mortals as mythological figures can only be called what I refer to as “pseudo-patriotism”. A nation, with its image and power battered, clamouring for its pride, tries to find a way out when it is confronted with an external threat. New heroes and heroines are created, to take up the mantle where others have failed. It does not matter how flawed these figures are, but the fact that they are Pakistanis fighting “external oppression” is in itself a feat.

The US is seen as the external oppressor and the war on terror as its instrument of oppression. But no one wonders whether the militants that the Americans are fighting may be the same ones that are creating chaos and anarchy here at home. It explains why everyone is quick to point out about the civilian casualties in the CIA conducted drone strikes, but no one questions whether perhaps some of those people actually deserved to die. It showcases how people like Aafia Siddiqui or Faisal Shahzad are projected as the new face of pan-Islamism falling prey to Western conspiracies, but yet will never be subject to the same scrutiny that is reserved for the West.

For a nation that puts its leaders through a baptism of fire every time there’s a political scandal, we sure fail to apply the same standards to ourselves.

But then again it’s all a conspiracy and I’m an idiot for not believing it.

Aafia Siddiqui: emblem of an uncertain Pakistan
Aafia Siddiqui: emblem of an uncertain Pakistan | Mustafa Qadri | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/01/pakistan-aafia-siddiqui-outrage)
Pakistanis are furious about western double standards – but to create change we must drop our habit of outraged victimhood

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o Mustafa Qadri
o guardian.co.uk, Friday 1 October 2010 13.30 BST
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Pakistanis protest sentencing of Aafia Siddique, Lahore, September 2010 Activists in Lahore protest the sentencing of Aafia Siddiqui, September 2010. Photograph: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

The fact that a troubled al-Qaeda sympathiser has been branded the daughter of Pakistan speaks for the madness that has engulfed our region. There is no place for sanity in the present climate of hypocrisy and outrage that stoked by American double standards.

On the streets of Karachi, Pindi and Lahore they came in their tens of thousands brandishing fists and images of Aafia Siddiqui with her sunken features and desperate expression. "Americans are dogs!" some chanted. Others preferred "Zardari is a traitor!" Before long effigies and American flags went up in flames as well.

Protesters gathered over the past two weeks to condemn the ruling by a New York court last Thursday that saw Siddiqui, a Pakistani doctor, sentenced to 86 years in prison for attempting to kill US soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan. Siddiqui also stands accused of raising funds for al-Qaida.

But Siddiqui has been painted as a victim owing to mysteries surrounding her sudden disappearance in 2003 along with her three young children and her visibly traumatised reappearance in 2008 amid allegations of kidnapping and rape by American captors. The whereabouts of her youngest child, eight-year-old Suleiman, remain unknown.

Political parties of every hue have jumped on the bandwagon. Even the MQM, the most staunchly anti-Islamist political party in Pakistan has demanded her extradition to Pakistan. The government – led by the Pakistan People's party – spent $US2m on Siddiqui's legal costs in the US.

It would be wrong, and arrogant, to dismiss the Aafia hysteria as populism alone – the anger is genuine. But to surrender to it would also be a mistake.

The anger in Pakistan over Siddiqui is about justice, or the lack of it. Everyday life in Pakistan makes a mockery of good conscience. It is impossible to be a saint here because the moral quandaries are ubiquitous, be it as you pretend to ignore the man with stumps for legs crawling across the market pavements, or you contact a cousin to facilitate a business deal. Nothing is straightforward here.

The one word used by every citizen I've met in Pakistan, be they in Sindh, Punjab, Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan is insaaf, or justice. "There is no justice here," is the most common sentence I have heard in the last four years.

Aafia reminds us that injustice is not merely a domestic malaise but a global problem. Just as each of us have our local and national masters, so our leaders have their patrons in Washington. From the vantage point of Pakistan, none of these actors behaves lawfully.

Remember that this international conflict with militant Islam has always been branded as a battle between the civilised and the uncivilised. Countless essays and journals have been printed trying to convince us that we are in this mess because Muslims are simply struggling to modernise. And yet in its conduct of this war the west has rarely lived up to the standards of justice and democracy that are supposed to distinguish it from the Islamist foe.

Siddiqui is emblematic of this brazen hypocrisy, a fact not lost on Pakistanis. Contrast her to US soldiers implicated in war crimes in Iraq and the marines who killed Afghans for sport. None of them is likely to receive 86 years in prison. This double standard is what fuels the outrage. It is the same double standard that, in Pakistan, sees some sit in high office while others languish in prison.

Pakistan's leaders underwrite America's missile war in the tribal areas – whose civilian casualties, President Asif Zardari said, according to Bob Woodward's latest book, "do not worry me." In the minds of most Pakistanis this puts the lie to any pretensions the US might have to being the world's saviour.

But Pakistan is not immune to hypocrisy either. Where were the protests for Mukhtaran Mai, the rape victim who became one our bravest human rights activists? In 2005, then-president Musharraf infamously claimed that Mai got herself raped to get a visa to the west, giving voice to a sentiment shared by many. There has been little protest over Umar Cheema, a courageous investigative reporter who was kidnapped and tortured by what he claims were secret government agents because of a string of stories that exposed the corruption of our military and civilian leaders. And what of Balochistan, the province where fresh stories of enforced disappearance and rape filter out every week but never get investigated?

We have lost our moral compass. With our cricketers disgraced, our cinemas and shrines increasingly targeted and our bread baskets flooded, outrage has become our premier national pastime. There is plenty to be outraged about, but outrage won't bring us jobs or electricity or return our crops. Like any addict, we need to drop our habit of outrage and victimhood. Of course, that will not happen any time soon.

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