LAHORE: The Walton Cantonment Board and the Lahore Cantonment Board do not register marriages of Christians and Ahmadis, stating that they only register marriages solemnised under Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961.
Christians and Ahmadi communities have made arrangements on their own for registration.
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Talking to The Express Tribune, Peter Jacob, Centre for Social Justice director, said that a large number of Christians lived in cantonment areas. “They are denied the right to get their marriages registered. On March 12, 2015, a deputy attorney general had undertaken before the Supreme Court that the government would ensure registration of marriages of all couples from minority communities.
However, nothing has been done in this regard so far,” he said.
He said that a Christian man had approached the Walton Cantonment Board administration last month for getting his marriage registered.
“He asked them for the prescribed form, but he was refused. He got them to write down the reason. They said that they did not extend the service to Christians or Ahmadis,” he said.
Jacob said that it was injustice that a government body had refused to acknowledge Christian marriages.
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Saleemudin, a Jamaat Ahmadiyya spokesperson, told The Express Tribune that they had established their own system for registering marriages. “After some effort, we were able to convince NADRA to acknowledge our marriages. Nevertheless, our people still face problems when they are asked to prove their marital relationship to embassies and consulates while applying for visas,” he said.
He said several Ahmadi families were residing in cantonments. “However, none of our marriages have been registered with the cantonment administration. They register births and deaths, but flatly refuse when it comes to marriages. They say that they only register marriages which fall under the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961,” he said. He said that there was no provision in the ordinance to bar cantonment administrations from registering marriages of minority communities.
Rana Sajjad, the Walton Cantonment Board prosecutor superintendent, told The Express Tribune that they did not register marriages of Ahmadis or Christians. He said legislation was needed in this regard. “We register marriages under Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961,” he said.
He said they needed directions in this regard which they had not received so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2016.
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