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Terrorism & Security

Pakistan will fight Aafia Siddiqui's sentencing in US

Pakistan's prime minister announced Friday that he will work for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman convicted of attempted murder by the US and believed to have ties to Al Qaeda.

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Pakistani newspaper The Nation reports that Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government would attempt to repatriate Siddiqui through every means possible. He also called Siddiqui’s family after the verdict to express his sympathy.

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Pakistanis protested Siddiqui’s sentence in at least two cities Friday, and authorities in other cities were preparing for more. About 100 people attempted to march to the US embassy in Islamabad but were stopped by police. In Peshawar, dozens of people burned tires and chanted slogans against the US and Pakistani leaders.

But that was less than the thousands of people who protested across Pakistan when Siddiqui was convicted in February.

The Christian Science Monitor reported then that the outpouring of anger was “another example of the US government’s high-handedness and is expected to fuel anti-American sentiment in a country where Washington's foreign policy is already viewed with suspicion.” Anger against the US has been stoked by US drone attacks that have killed Pakistanis in increasing numbers. Gilani said Friday that the release of Siddiqi would "improve the US image in Pakistan."

“The public’s reaction [to the conviction] can be read as a reaction to drone attacks, travel restrictions, and other discriminatory policies [against Pakistanis],” says Riffat Hussain, a political and defense analyst at Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University. ...

"Aafia’s case has become a rallying point for anti-US sentiments,” says Dr. Hussain.

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