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August 24, 2019



August 24, 2019

A Kyrgyz woman has made members of the Swabi district administration and police officials parties in a petition seeking the recovery of her son who she says was kidnapped in 2016 by her ex-husband. A division bench of the Peshawar High Court has issued a notice to the officials in the contempt of court petition. The woman, Aiylehieva Aijan says that she had come to Pakistan with her husband, Muhammad Zeb, from the Swabi district and remained there for a number of years. Zeb had met Aijan in 2005 when visiting Kyrgyzstan. After differences with her husband, the woman returned to her home country in 2016, with her two young daughters, while her husband promised he would bring her son, then three years old, to her after one month. But, predictably enough, this did not happen. Authorities have since been unable to recover the boy, despite numerous court appearances by the mother.

This is not an unusual event. Pakistani fathers who wed women of foreign descent have been known in other cases too to whisk them away to places in Pakistan where recovery is often difficult. This is in part because police and other authorities tend to align themselves with the father, on the basis that his children belong to him. International court orders have been violated in some cases and no real effort made to reunite children with their mothers. In this case, there is another feature which tells us something about Pakistani society. The father, it seems, was willing to allow those two daughters to leave his home but wished to keep his only son. The dichotomy is seen everywhere.

Pakistani authorities have in the past cooperated with British authorities to recover girls of Pakistani descent who are forced to wed Pakistani husbands against their will and also rescue their children. In some cases, daring recoveries have been made from parts of Pakistan. Essentially, administrative officials, especially police, need to be educated about the requirement to follow court orders in cases involving the children of separated parents. When these orders are ignored, it inflicts immense suffering on entire families and has a negative influence on the children as well. The image of Pakistan has been damaged before by such high-profile cases. We can help improve it only by ensuring that the recovery process is not unduly delayed or ignored altogether by those responsible for placing minors with the parent who rightfully has been granted custody by the court.

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