A feudal family in Sukkur has allegedly been threatening a UN partner organisation dealing with migrations in Sukkur for ‘kidnapping’ their daughter, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Mehrunnisa Ali* worked for the NGO that her family now holds responsible for her disappearance.
Mehrunnisa’s father registered a police case last week after discovering that his daughter never returned home after she left for work in the morning, Sukkur Division SSP Saqib Memon says.
Mehrunnisa was picked up by an official car of the NGO, her family alleges. The NGO, however, denies the claims, saying Mehrunnisa never showed up for work that day.
The ‘true story’
Maen Daqqaq, the NGO’s Jordanian head, fell in love with 22-year-old Mehrunnisa, sources within the NGO reveal.
Daqqaq, 40, had been stationed in Pakistan for over a year and had worked extensively towards rehabilitation of flood survivors in Sindh.
His contract was supposed to expire last week, following which he was scheduled to return home. Fate, however, had different plans for Daqqaq and Mehrunnisa, who ended up falling in love. The 40-year-old Jordanian sent a marriage proposal to Mehrunnisa’s family, but her parents turned it down citing “cultural differences”, sources told The Express Tribune.
Seeing no other option, the two decided to elope, they said.
Police detectives traced the “couple” back to Doha, where Mehrunnisa denies allegations by her family that she had been kidnapped, saying she left “willingly”.
“She has sent us her marriage contract documents, verified by the Pakistan Embassy in Qatar,” SSP Saqib Memon says, adding, “We will present the documents in court. The FIR will eventually have to be written off, even though the family is still alleging she was abducted.”
Going against tradition
With women in Sindh being treated as the “lesser species”, falling in love for them comes with consequences.
“There are chances of them being killed if they decide to marry out of free will or elope,” says another senior police official in Sukkur, requesting anonymity. “It’s a good thing that an FIR has been registered. At least now, if she decides to return, she will be safe,” he adds.
However, since Mehrunnisa comes from an influential family, the NGO in question has shut down its offices throughout Sindh out of fear. With a lingering threat to their safety, foreigners working for the organisation have been pulled out of the province temporarily.
UN gets involved
In an effort to calm things down, the United Nations has become involved in diplomatic efforts with the Sindh government and local leaders. With the matter now resting with senior officials, the UN is trying to highlight the incident as an individual act and not that of the organisation.
*The woman’s name has been changed to protect her identity
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2011.
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