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Seeking asylum: Fear and eloping in Abbottabad

By: Muhammad Sadaqat

ABBOTABAD: A runaway Afghan couple who got married in Pakistan against the will of their families now fears being killed at the hands of an Afghan jirga for violating tribal customs.

The man is in protective custody of the Abbottabad police, while the woman has been sent to Darul Aman by a local court. However, facing the threat of being killed by the jirga in their native town, the couple has now sought asylum in Pakistan.

Hewad, a resident of Jalalabad, who claims to be a trader of used computers in Kabul, told the police he fell in love with Mariyam Marjman Molouda after meeting her at a local market a few months back.

He added that the feeling was mutual and their relationship started growing stronger. However, happily ever after was a far cry for the couple

From Kabul to Abbottabad

“I was shocked when I learnt that Mariyam’s parents were planning to marry her off to her late elder sister’s husband, Abdul Rehman,” Hewad said.

The couple decided to leave Kabul and came directly to Abbottabad, along with two of Mariyam’s nieces, also Abdul Rehman’s daughters.

After reaching Abbottabad, the couple, with the help of their Pakistani friend, Qaisar, settled into a flat near Mandiyan Chowk and got married about a month ago, SHO Mirpur Police Qamar Hayat told The Express Tribune.

No escape

Four days ago, over 20 armed men from Mariyam’s family tracked the couple down in Pakistan and entered their house forcibly, eyewitnesses told The Express Tribune. They allegedly beat Hewad and his friend Qaisar, but just as they were about to take Hewad away, the local police intervened.

The couple was escorted to a police station and presented before the court of judicial magistrate the next morning. They produced their nikah nama and recorded their statements endorsing their decision to move to Pakistan and get married, against the will of their families.

The couple told the court that they feared the local jirga in Afghanistan would publicly execute them to ‘punish’ them for violating tribal customs. The magistrate, however, sent Hewad to the police’s protective custody. He was then sent to the Mansehra Jail after being booked under the Foreigners’ Act, since he did not have travel documents.

Mariyam’s press talk

“I brought my nieces, Husna, 5, and Sana, 2, with me to Abbottabad,” Mariyam said, while addressing the media from the Darul Aman, Abbottabad. She said they had sent Husna back to Kabul, while Sana was still with her.

Mariyam further said that, as she is the youngest among all her siblings, she was tasked to take care of her nephews and nieces. She said she decided to run away with Hewad after learning of her parents’ wish to get her married to Abdul Rehman, a chronic patient of paralysis, who, she said, is known as her father among their acquaintances. “How can I marry a man who is in his 60s and whom I always respected like a father?” she said.

Mariyam asked for protection for herself and her husband, saying she was sure her family would kill them.

Counter-allegation

On the other hand, Muhmmad Ishaq, who claimed to be the younger brother of Abdul Rehman, filed an application with the police claiming that Mariyam was his sister-in-law, and Sana was her and Abdul Rehman’s real daughter.

He further alleged that Hewad, who was an employee of their computer shop, had abducted Mariyam and forced her to marry him. He requested to be given the custody of his sister-in-law.

However, Mariyam and Hewad denied Ishaq’s claim, adding that the tribesmen were only interested in taking them back to their native town and to publicly execute them in the name of ‘honour’.

PHC takes notice

Meanwhile, the Peshawar High Court chief justice took suo moto notice of the case on Saturday, and asked the district judiciary and the police to provide security to the couple. The chief justice also asked the district administration to present the couple before his court on July 23.


The Express Tribune

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