The United States embassy has requested special protection for US citizen Thomas Daniel, 35, who recently came to Pakistan to marry a Christian girl from Sahiwal.
The couple had met and began interacting on a chat site on the internet three years ago. According to Thomas, he and Sahiwal Busti Jahaz Ground resident Shaifa began chatting several years ago and eventually fell in love. “I’d never met her in person but I have seen a picture of her. We recently ended up quarrelling and she told me that the only way she would forgive me was if I married her,” Thomas told reporters. Daniels said that he would be staying in Pakistan for at least ten days. “I have to help arrange for a visa for Shaifa and sign all the relevant documentation. It will still take some time to procure the relevant documents but I am told that the security situation won’t allow for me to stay here indefinitely,” he said.
Shaifa’s father Ayub Masih said that he had no idea about his daughter’s relationship. “My daughter is studying at the university to become a doctor and I had no idea that she was chatting with someone on the internet. Suddenly, three days ago he just arrived at our doorstep,” Masih told reporters.
“There was a lot of explaining to do because I hadn’t told my parents about the situation but they understood. They supported us and immediately took us to the church,” Shaifa told reporters. “We got married at on Friday night, which is the same day Thomas arrived in Sahiwal,” she said.
Thomas said that he and Shaifa had been exchanging daily emails. “I knew that I wanted to marry her and I just boarded a plane. I hadn’t really thought ahead much and it was quite hard to get from Lahore to Sahiwal and then locate her house but she didn’t know I was coming,” he said.
“I kept stalling marriage proposals when my family wanted me to get married because I was in love with him. I just couldn’t tell them because they would have told me there was no chance it would happen,” Shaifa said.
Thomas Daniel said that the US embassy had requested special security on his behalf. “I will be in Pakistan to begin the visa process for my wife and four policemen have been deployed outside the house for our protection,” he said.
“We were told to guard the house but no one told us why. When we came to the tiny house and saw a foreigner here we were surprised,” said Inspector Javed Sahu. “I was even more surprised when I learned why he was here,” he said.
“It was rather surprising. Ayub called me to the church around 10.45pm on Friday. He told me it couldn’t wait and when I got there, he told me he wanted me to perform a marriage ceremony,” said pastor Rahman Masih. “They wanted to keep it low profile because of security,” he added.
“I am incredibly happy. I never expected he would come all the way to Pakistan for me,” Shaifa said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2011.