By Mushtaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban on Thursday demanded the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who has been convicted by the US court on charges of her alleged attempt to murder US soldiers in Afghanistan, and threatened to execute an American soldier they were holding currently. They claimed Aafia Siddiquiâ€™s family had approached the Taliban network through a Jirga of notables, seeking their assistance to put pressure on the US to provide her justice.
â€œBeing Muslims, it becomes our religious and moral obligation to help the distressed Pakistani woman convicted by the US court on false charges,â€ said a senior Afghan Taliban commander. The commander, whose militant network is holding the US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, called The News from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan and threatened to execute the American trooper if their demand was not met. He claimed AafiaSiddiquiâ€™s family had approached the Taliban network through a Jirga of notables, seeking their assistance to put pressure on the US to provide her justice.
â€œWe tried our best to make the family understand that our role may create more troubles for the hapless woman, who was already in trouble. On their persistent requests, we have now decided to include Dr Aafia Siddiquiâ€™s name in the list of our prisoners in US custody that we delivered to Americans in Afghanistan for swap of their soldier in our custody,â€ explained the militant commander.
He claimed family members of Dr Aafia told the Taliban leadership that they had lost all hopes in the Pakistan government and now Allah Almighty and the Taliban were their only hope. Later, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also called The News from somewhere in Afghanistan and owned a statement given by the Taliban commander.
The militant commander alleged that the US soldier, whom his fighters kidnapped from Afghanistanâ€™s Paktika province near the border with Pakistanâ€™s troubled South Waziristan in June 2009, had admitted his involvement in several raids in Afghanistan. â€œSince he has confessed to all charges against him, our Islamic court had announced death sentence for him,â€ the Taliban leader claimed.
The same Taliban faction released a video of the captive US soldier on Christmas Day. Taliban said they had been shifting the soldier all the time due to the search operations by the US and Afghan forces. He said the only way Americans could save life of their soldier was to release 21 Afghan prisoners and the â€œinnocentâ€ Pakistani lady.
Most of their prisoners, he claimed, were being held at the Guantanamo prison. â€œWe believe that like the Israelis, the Americans would be ready soon to do any deal for taking possession of the remains of their soldier, but it would be late by then,â€ he stressed. Dr Aafiaâ€™s family could not be approached for comments on the Taliban claim.