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Archive for August 27th, 2008

An interesting update on the controversial Dr. Afia Siddiqui case, the Pakistani woman currently held on U.S. federal charges in New York but who is also suspected of being Prisoner 650, a prisoner-of-war who was held in U.S. prison in Afghanistan for the past few years, [see related posts]. Siddiqui allegedly disappeared in Karachi along with her three children in early 2003. Although Dr. Siddiqui only reappeared after her reported arrest in Afghanistan last month [she was accused of assaulting and attempting to kill U.S. officers], the whereabouts of her children were still unknown. However, the Daily Times reported today that U.S. authorities said an 11 year old boy who was captured with Siddiqui last month is her son Ahmed. According to the Washington Post, “The boy was detained July 18 when Afghan police arrested Siddiqui in what they described as a shootout near a government compound in Ghazni.”

The Daily Times cited Siddiqui’s attorney, Elizabeth Fink, who said that Siddiqui will petition a federal court to have Ahmed placed in the custody of her brother in Texas. Until then, human rights groups have responded strongly to news of Siddiqui’s young son in U.S. custody. In a press release, Human Rights Watch asserted, “Whether or not his mother is implicated in criminal acts, Ahmed Siddiqui should not be held responsible. Under both Afghan and international law, he is too young to be considered criminally responsible for his mother’s alleged acts.” Moreover, the organization “expressed concern not only for Ahmed Siddiqui, but also for two siblings, Mariam, age 10, and Suleman, age 5, who have been missing since March 2003.”

CHUP will continue to cover developments related to the Afia Siddiqui case. Her court hearing will continue on September 3, 2008 at 2:00 pm [EST] in New York City.

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The recent negative developments in Pakistan has dominated media coverage of the country, with headlines focusing on coalition splits, impeachment debates, and the deteriorating economic and security situation.  However, the inspirational work of the Pakistan Disabled Cricket Association (PDCA) merits an opportunity to highlight something positive that is occurring in the country. On Monday, the PDCA announced that it “hoped its first-ever national league would pave the way for more world recognition as they eye a tour to neighbouring India.” According to a piece by the AFP, “The PDCA has just staged the first eight-team National League, which Rawalpindi won by beating Multan by two wickets in the final in the southern port city of Karachi on Sunday night.” The association’s president, Salim Karim, told the news agency, “We think it’s a huge leap for us, and the first-ever league would help us form a strong Pakistan disabled team and (make) our dreams of touring India next year come true.”

Karim, who can barely walk, (his right leg was affected by polio as a child while a motorcycle accident seriously damaged his left leg), has been called “the driving force behind disabled cricket in Pakistan.” He, along with Ameerudin Ansari, a former cricketer, and Mohammad Nizam, established the PDCA in 2006 with a vision “to make all physically impaired people realize that they can live a life without any worries.”  Ansari previously noted about the cricketers, “They come on crutches but leave their support to show they can play and give a lesson to all those who believe that life in imparity is useless.” A separate news piece noted, “The determination to overcome their physical impediments is a common theme amongst the teammates and they play an important role in a country where health facilities and opportunities for disabled people are rudimentary at best.”

PDCA’s achievements have caught the eye of Pakistani cricket stars, including Younus Khan, who said he was amazed at the enthusiasm of the disabled cricketers. He told the AFP, “I am amazed at their courage and passion…I was behind forming the Peshawar team, and when we announced trials we thought some 10 to 20 players would come, but there were over 100 players in the trials.” Khan has urged both the International Cricket Council (ICC) as well as the media to take time out for the cause and contribute to its development. He emphasized, “It is eye-catching to see a player with just one hand hitting sixes, and that was on display during the league…I think ICC must support this type of cricket and give encouragement by arranging series for them.” Last month, Shoaib Malik, captain of the Pakistani national cricket team, also voiced his support for this cause, and called the formation of the PDCA, “a great achievement.”

The mission and work of the PDCA is significant because it allows us to look beyond these people’s handicaps and focus instead on their achievements. Howzzat for inspirational?

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