The Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed on Friday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the family of Pakistani neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently serving 86-year jail term for attempted murder and other felonies, in acquiring visas for the United States. Dr Aafia is currently imprisoned at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. The court also ordered the foreign office to ensure that Dr Aafia’s family doesn’t face any hardship while travelling to the United States. The directives were given during a hearing regarding the release of Dr Aafia by IHC judge Justice Sardar Aijaz Ishaq Khan. Petitioner Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, sister of Dr Aafia, appeared in the court along with her lawyer Dr Sajid Qureshi whereas Raheel Mohsin represented the foreign ministry. During the hearing, the Foreign Office submitted a report regarding Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s imprisonment details in court. The court asked whether any contact was made with the Pakistani scientist to which Dr Fauzia’s lawyer responded by saying that the contact could not be established. The foreign ministry representative said that they tried to contact Dr Aafia but she refused it, adding that the US prison officials told them that Dr Aafia does not wish to contact her family. He said that the prison officials told the foreign ministry that they cannot force Dr Aafia to make the contact if she does not wish to do so. The court inquired whether the Pakistani Consul General had made any contact with the petitioner or his family. To this, the foreign ministry representative said that the Consul General was in constant touch with the petitioner. The counsel for the petitioner argued that he did not understand why Dr Aafia would not want to make contact with her family. The foreign ministry representative said that the ministry would try to facilitate the family’s visa so that they could contact her themselves. During the hearing, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui said that her brother spent special occasions such as Eid, Diwali and Christmas outside the prison but the officials say that Dr Aafia has passed away. “We are suspicious [about Dr Aafia’s passing] because we were not allowed to meet or talk to her… a lawyer had met Dr Aafia who told us that she was in critical condition,” she added.