Ismat Siddiqui, the mother of Pakistani neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui was laid to rest at a local cemetery in Karachi on Saturday. She died of illness aged eighty-two.
Muslim funeral rites were performed at the Madina Mosque in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in the coastal city before she was buried at Nabat Chowk Gabol Cemetery.
“It is a big loss. She was like a big tree holding all the branches of the family including Dr Fawzia Siddqiqui, Dr Aafia Siddiqui and Muhammad Ali Siddiqui. With her loss, the family is shaken up but I’m sure they’re a very resilient family,” said Pakistan-based political analyst Sohail Yaqoob.
Referring to the struggle for the release of Aafia, who has been serving an eighty-six-year sentence in the United States, Yaqoob said, “They will pass this test and come out stronger because they have a great cause to struggle”.
Ismat often said the main reason for her illness was not the cruelty meted out to Aafia, but the indifferent attitude of Pakistani authorities.
Ismat was born in in the Indian city of Bulandshahr on 15 August 1939. She was raised by her maternal grandfather following the death of her father.
After the creation of Pakistan, she migrated to Karachi where she attended Sir Syed Girls College. She later married Dr Saleh Muhammad Siddiqui, with whom she had three children, Aafia being the youngest.
She spent the last decade of her life seeking justice for Aafia. In a recent letter to former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Ismat pleaded for the return of her daughter.
She wrote: “My health is ailing and I am becoming weaker as the days have turned into years, but I keep hope in Allah and the Qur’an that a saviour like you will rise, for Allah has bestowed on you the power to resolve this issue. Please bring back my daughter as a dying mother’s mercy plea”.
Dr Aafia Siddiqui
Ismat’s final years were spent in turmoil as she pleaded for the return of Dr Aafia Siddiqui. She had criticised the Pakistani government and politicians for failing to facilitate the return of her daughter.
According to Yaqoob, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry had been told by US authorities that Aafia wished not to speak to her family.
“Very surprisingly, they have been told that Dr Aafia doesn’t want to talk to her family. I am not sure whether Dr Aafia has said this, or what has been said to her which prompted her to say this,” he said.
“Under the circumstances, I’m not very sure the Foreign Office would like to pass that information to her; that [her] mother has passed away.”
A spokesperson for the Aafia Movement Pakistan, Muhammad Ayub noted that Ismat passed without receiving justice.