06/02/2022, 15.48
PAKISTAN
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Two months after a girl was abducted by a co-worker in Faisalabad, police still haven’t done anything

by Shafique Khokhar

Another Christian girl was kidnapped for marriage. Her captor is known and there are witnesses against him, but even the court hearings have not yielded any results. For Human Rights Focus Pakistan, Pakistan’s new government should adopt a proposed bill against forced conversions.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – A Christian girl was abducted two months ago by a co-worker. In court, eyewitnesses said they saw the incident with their own eyes, but police so far have failed to locate her.

Saima Gulzar lived in Faisalabad. Hers is just another tragic case of kidnapping for the purpose of forced conversion to Islam and marriage.

The 16-year-old was employed by a local factory. On 5 April, as she made her way home, a co-worker, Muhammad Sajid, and two unknown persons, shoved her into a waiting white car and drove off.

During the kidnapping, Saima shouted for help, attracting passers-by, including Arshad Masih and Irfan Masih, who witnessed the incident. Both tried to stop the car, but the kidnappers were armed and threatened them before making their escape.

When Saima's father, Gulzar Masih, was informed of his daughter’s abduction, he went to the factory owner, Muhammad Shehbaz, and told him what had happened, asking for help to bring his daughter back home.

The factory owner said he would not take any legal action against the kidnapper, but reassured the worried father that he would get his daughter back within a couple of days.

He later changed his tune, refused to help Saima’s father, and said that she had embraced Islam and married Muhammad Sajid.

The father filed a First Information Report (FIR) with police but the latter proved uncooperative. For this reason, thanks to the legal support of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), a complaint was filed with the District and Session Court in Faisalabad.

The first hearing was held on 21 May, followed by a second one today; on both occasions, police failed to show any progress in their investigation.

“In two months, the police have still not been able to locate Saima Gulzar and her kidnapper,” said HRFP president Naveed Walter,

“The kidnapper has been clearly identified, two eyewitnesses have made statements in court, the owner of the factory has admitted the kidnapping by the co-worker: Why hasn't the police taken action yet?

"When minority girls are kidnapped, the police are more often than not prejudiced and offer more protection to the guilty than to the victim.”

For this reason, Walter wants Pakistan’s new government to reintroduce a bill against forced conversions, dropped by the previous government of Imran Khan because it was opposed by the Islamic establishment.

“In addition to electoral reforms, changes are also needed in legislative procedures to reduce the influence of Islamist ideology which views most of the bills on minorities as anti-Islamic.”

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