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Case of illegal stay against Afghan couple quashed

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Monday quashed a case of illegal entry and stay in Pakistan against an Afghan couple, who fled their country after facing death threats over marriage.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Shahjehan Khan Akhunzada handed over the couple to local police directing them to keep them at a safe place preferably the women’s police station or police lines and provide them with food, clothes and money for daily expenditure.

The court fixed for July 31 the hearing into the case.

The couples were produced before the bench on the orders of the chief justice, who had taken a suo motu notice of their arrest by Abbottabad police.

The complainant in the case against the couple, Ishaq Khan, appeared before the court and alleged that the woman, Ms Maryam, already married to his brother, had eloped with the man, Hewad.

He informed the bench that he had been legally living in Peshawar’s Scheme Chowk and possessed a proof of registration card issued by Nadra.

The bench ordered the card’s verification, which revealed that the card was fake.

The bench ordered Mr Ishaq’s arrest and directed the SHO of the relevant east cantonment police station to investigate how he acquired the card and who the culpable officials were.

Senior superintendent of police (investigation), Abbottabad, Raza Hussain and the SHO of the relevant Mirpur police station produced the couple, saying they were taken into custody on complaint lodged by Ishaq, who claimed to be the brother-in-law of the woman, Ms Maryam.

They added that the couple illegally stayed in Pakistan and therefore, FIR was registered against them under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act.

The chief justice observed that hundreds of thousands of Afghan nationals had illegally been roaming around but the authorities had not been taking action against them and in that light, why action was taken against the said couple.

The chief justice observed that the couple had escaped from Afghanistan under serious circumstances for asylum here and it was not appropriate for police to use the Foreigners Act for them.

The couple told the judges and later journalists that instead of returning to Afghanistan, they would prefer dieing in Pakistan. The couples were taken into custody four days ago by Mirpur police in Abbottabad.

A local judicial magistrate sent the woman, 22, to a women’s shelter house and the man charged under Section 14 of Foreigners Act to Mansehra prison.

The couple claimed that father of Maryam had planned to marry her against her consent and therefore, she escaped to Pakistan along with Hewad.