The Peshawar High Court (PHC) ordered police to protect a runaway Afghan couple, who got married in Pakistan against the will of their families, amid fears that they may be killed at the hands of an Afghan jirga for violating tribal customs.
On Monday, the PHC directed police to take the newlywed couple, who reached the provincial capital under strict security, into protective custody and provide them with accommodation either at the Women Police station or Police Lines Peshawar. The chief justice also ordered police to provide the couple with food and clothing. Earlier, the PHC had taken suo motu notice of the case.
Hewad, 22, who is known by only one name, wed 18-year-old Mariyam Marjman in the town of Abbottabad, last month after escaping Kabul with the help of a Pakistani friend. Mariyam and Hewad, both Afghan nationals, were in love before they got married, and only eloped when they found out that Mariyam’s parents wanted her to marry the husband of her deceased elder sister.
Earlier, a judicial magistrate had booked Hewad under the Foreigners’ Act, since he did not have travel documents and sent Mariyam to Darul Aman.
PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan expressed deep concerns as to why the police had booked asylum seekers, saying the police was assisting opponents of the couple.
The chief justice quashed an FIR registered against Hewad at Mirpur police station in Abbottabad, saying the couple had taken refugee under grave compulsion.
“We would prefer to die here rather than go back to Afghanistan,” Hewad told The Express Tribune.
During the proceedings, Muhammad Ishaq, who claims to be the younger brother of Abdul Rehman, told the court that Mariyam’s marriage to Abdul Rehman had been solemnised in 2006.
The court asked Ishaq to produce his identity, but when his Afghan Refugee Card turned out to be a fake after verification from NADRA, the court ordered police to arrest Ishaq and charge him under the Foreigners’ Act.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.