THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY in Pakistan have gone to the High Court in their struggle to win back their 14-year-old girl, who they say was kidnapped by a man who forced her to marry him and demanded he renounce his faith in Islam.
Lawyer Khalil Tahir Sandhu confirmed to Aid to Church in Need (ACN) that on 2 June 2020 he submitted a petition to the Chief of the Lahore High Court, Muhammad Qasim Khan to appeal the Maira Shahbaz case.
The family wants to overturn the verdict of Judge Faisalabad who on May 5, 2020 stated that Catholic girl Maira was 19 and, as such, was legally married to Mohamad Nakash, a Muslim man who was married and had two young children.
Witnesses described how on April 28, 2020 Maira walked close to her home in Madina City, near Faisalabad, when Nakash and two armed accomplices climbed into the car, kidnapped her and fired weapons into the air as they drove fast.
Sandhu told ACN: “I’m trying my best for this case. Mrs. Maira [Nighat Shahbaz] very sad – even he is a picture of sadness. You cannot imagine how surprised it is to lose your daughter and lost all contact with her. “He said that when Nighat Shahbaz saw his daughter in court last month, he fainted and was rushed to the hospital for a heart attack. He made a slow recovery.
Sandhu added: “The case of Maira being a minor is very strong. There are many gaps and weaknesses in the opponent’s argument. “The lawyer cited birth certificates and other official documentation from local churches and schools to prove that Maira was 14 years old. Sandhu claimed the marriage certificate produced by Nakash in court was fake. The document was intended to show that he married the girl last October.
Nakash argues that, contrary to Pakistani law, which prohibits marriages with minors, marrying Maira is sanctioned by Islamic customs which, according to him, say it is legal if the girl has her first menstruation.
Sandhu said: “In cases like this, what we often see is that, after two or three years, people send the girl back to the family where at that time they have satisfied their desires and have had enough of them. “
Sandhu, former Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minorities, promised to raise the Maira case in the Punjab Assembly. A one-time roommate at a university fellow Christian Shahbaz Bhatti – was killed in 2011 for his criticism of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, while serving as Pakistan’s federal minister for minorities – Sandhu said: “What motivates me is my faith in Jesus and I was reminded of the part of the gospel where Christ revealed how he had been sent to free the captives. “
ACN supports the National Commission for Justice and Peace and other organizations in Pakistan that provide legal and paralegal assistance to minorities and help those who are forced into hiding.
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