Family to challenge verdict in Karachi teen ‘elopement or kidnapping’ case — lawyer

Dua Zehra, left, and her husband Zaheer Ahmed posing for a photograph during their recent interview with Pakistani YouTuber Zubair Mahum released on June 13, 2022. (Photo courtesy: Zunaira Mahum/YouTube)
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Updated 13 June 2022

Family to challenge verdict in Karachi teen ‘elopement or kidnapping’ case — lawyer

  • A high court last week ruled Dua Zehra Kazmi was free to decide her own fate
  • The girl requests parents in latest interview to accept her and her husband

KARACHI: The family of a young Pakistani girl, who had gone missing from outside her residence in Karachi in mid-April, will challenge a high court verdict that last week allowed her to decide if she wanted to go with her parents or husband, the family's lawyer said on Monday. 

The parents of Syeda Dua Zehra Kazmi filed a first information report (FIR) on April 16 alleging that their daughter had been kidnapped after she went to throw trash outside their home in the provincial capital of Sindh.   

Kazmi’s parents said she was underage and "kidnapped," but the girl told a Sindh High Court (SHC) judge she was not abducted and had married a man, Zaheer Ahmed, of her “free will.” The court last week ruled that Kazmi could decide her own fate, disposing of a case that divided public opinion on whether the girl was kidnapped or if she ran away of her own choice. 

However, Kazmi's parents have now decided to challenge the high court's verdict in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. 

“The father of Dua Zehra Kazmi has today engaged us as lawyers to represent him in the trial court and also file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court’s decision,” Jibran Nasir, who will be representing Kazmi's parents, told Arab News. 

He said the high court’s verdict was in contrast with its own precedents in three cases in the last couple of years.  

“Both the official NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) record, which existed long before this case, and the questionable medical report say that the girl is under 18, meaning a minor, and a minor girl's custody either lies with her natural guardians that is her parents or with the state, if it is assumed that the child isn't safe with parents,” Nasir said.  

“At least in three cases, it decided within the last two years, the honorable high court has sent the girls aged under 18 to shelter home, and in two of these three cases the girls later decided to go with parents.”  

In case of a girl from Sindh’s Kashmore district, whose age was 17-and-a-half year and who was married in Balochistan's capital Quetta, where the legal age for marriage is 16 years, the SHC had sent the girl to a shelter home until she turned 18.   

Surprisingly, the lawyer said, a report prepared by a radiologist was not questioned by the court and taken on record. The report by chief radiologist at Karachi's Civil Hospital said Kazmi was aged between 16 and 17. 

Nasir said the Supreme Court observed in a 2017 case that the bone ossification report, even if prepared by a medical board, was not precise and gave an estimation ranging from one to two years. 

“What is also concerning is that the government-verified documents, such as those issued by NADRA several years before, should have had some credibility attached to them," he said, adding a high court could not conduct a “factual inquiry in its constitutional jurisdiction.” 

“The question should be left to the competent court to resolve conclusively and in the interim, the child should be placed in the state's custody in a shelter home to ensure her welfare and that she doesn't inadvertently fall victim to any crime." 

Nasir also disagreed with the Sindh advocate general's argument that it was not a case of abduction and that the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013 didn’t apply in this case, saying the official solely relied on the statement of the "minor" girl.  

The Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013 prohibits the marriage of a child under the age of 18 and provides penalties for a male contracting party, the person who solemnizes the marriage as well as the parent or guardian concerned.  

In Punjab, where Kazmi married Zaheer, the legal age of marriage is 16. 

“If the girl is under 16 as claimed by NADRA documents, then the crime starts at the moment she was removed from custody of her parents even if the same was done through enticement and not through force and would fall under abduction," he said.  

"Thus, her travel to Punjab, her confinement there and her marriage would be considered a continuing offence(s) carried out on one voyage." 

In an interview with YouTuber Zunaira Mahum, Kazmi said she was neither drugged nor pressured into giving any statement. “Firstly, I am well and whatever I said, would say it with my consent,” the girl said during the interview shared online on Monday.  

She requested her parents to accept her and her husband: "I know they have gone through grief and even I have but I ask them to accept us." 

After a hearing of the case at the SHC last week, the girl's father, Syed Mehdi Kazmi, said Kazmi had changed her mind after meeting them in the judge’s chamber, but the judge didn’t accept his plea to record a fresh statement.  

Kazmi said she did not say any such thing and that her father had lied to the judge. 

“I didn’t say any such thing. He told me to 'go and tell the judge that you have to go with us' but I refused and said I don’t want to go [with you],” Kazmi said.  

"[He] forcibly said 'go and tell the judge that you want to go with us.' I refused and went out from there. He went to the judge and told a lie." 

Kazmi said her father wanted to marry her off to his nephew, Zainul Abideen, to get a plot that he had a dispute over with his brother. 

Fast bowler Haris Rauf ruled out of PSL after dislocating shoulder

Updated 25 February 2024

Fast bowler Haris Rauf ruled out of PSL after dislocating shoulder

  • Haris Rauf fell awkwardly on his shoulder during Karachi-Lahore match on Saturday
  • Doctors have advised Rauf to rest for 4-6 weeks to recover from injury, says Lahore Qalandars 

LAHORE: Fast bowler Haris Rauf has been ruled out of the remainder of the Pakistan Super League after dislocating his shoulder during two-time defending champion Lahore Qalandars’ two-wicket loss against Karachi Kings on Saturday.

The franchise said in a statement on Sunday that doctors have advised Rauf to rest for 4-6 weeks to recover from the injury after undergoing scans.

Rauf fell awkwardly on his shoulder in the last over while holding onto a stunning catch of Hasan Ali during Karachi’s thrilling run-chase as Lahore lost its fourth successive game in Pakistan’s premier domestic Twenty20 event.

Rauf struggled in the first three games but bounced back against Karachi with economical figures of 1-22 off his four overs.

“We are deeply saddened by Haris Rauf’s injury,” Lahore captain Shaheen Shah Afridi said. “It was painful to see him missing out … and his absence will be felt.”

Rauf’s injury is the second major bowling setback for Lahore after its premier spinner Rashid Khan of Afghanistan was ruled out before the tournament due to a back injury.

Pakistan approves mergers of leading Saudi company with stakes in its steel sector

Updated 25 February 2024

Pakistan approves mergers of leading Saudi company with stakes in its steel sector

  • M/s Saudi Iron and Steel Company (Hadeed) deals in spot sales in Pakistan’s steel market, exports to South Asian country
  • Three mergers are not anticipated to raise competition concerns in the relevant market, says competition commission

ISLAMABAD: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) this week approved three mergers concerning a leading Saudi company that has a significant presence in Pakistan’s steel market, the regulatory body said. 

Based in the kingdom, M/s/ Saudi Iron and Steel Company (Hadeed) produces a range of steel products and deals in spot sales in Pakistan’s steel market. Hadeed also exports to the South Asian country through international traders.

The CCP said in its press release on Saturday that the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, sent a pre-merger application to CCP to acquire 100 percent shareholding of Hadeed from M/s. Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (“SABIC”).

“PIF has entered into a share purchase agreement with SABIC, under which SABIC agrees to sell its entire share capital of Hadeed to PIF,” the CCP said. 

The second merger involved Hadeed acquiring 100 percent shareholding of Al Rajhi Steel Industries Company from M/s. Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Al Rajhi & Sons Investment. 

Al Rajhi Steel, established in 1978, is a subsidiary of Al Rajhi Invest and is known for its steel manufacturing capabilities in Saudi Arabia. This involved a share exchange agreement between Hadeed and Al Rajhi Invest.

In the third stage, the CCP said PIF intends to dispose off its 44.5 percent shareholding in Hadeed to M/s. Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Al Rajhi & Sons Investment, the CCP. It added that the move was intended to share control over Hadeed and Al Rajhi Steel to improve their respective production capabilities and increase their operational efficiency.

“These transactions, as per the information available, are not anticipated to raise any competition concerns in the relevant market,” the CCP said. 

It said Pakistan’s steel sector is “one of the most important industries in the country” and with investments, can raise the country’s GDP to bring benefits to both the economy and investors.

Pakistan inaugurates ‘pivotal’ polio campaign to immunize over 45.8 million children

Updated 25 February 2024

Pakistan inaugurates ‘pivotal’ polio campaign to immunize over 45.8 million children

  • Polio volunteers to immunize children under five years old from Feb. 26 to March 3, says national health ministry 
  • Many believe in the conspiracy theory that polio vaccines are part of a Western ploy to sterilize Pakistan’s population

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal health secretary Iftikhar Shallwani on Sunday inaugurated a nationwide campaign against polio that aims to immunize over 45.8 million children against the disease, the national health ministry said. 

Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio is endemic. The disease affects the nervous system of children and ultimately leads to paralysis.

The South Asian country’s efforts to contain polio have often been met with opposition, especially in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where militants have carried out attacks against vaccinators and the security teams guarding them. 

Many believe in the conspiracy theory that polio vaccines are part of a plot by Western outsiders to sterilize Pakistan’s population. 

Shallwani inaugurated the campaign, which is set to launch nationwide on Monday, by administering polio drops to children. 

“This pivotal campaign, scheduled from Feb 26 to Mar 3, aims to immunize over 45.8 million children under the age of 5 across the country,” the Ministry of National Health Services wrote on X platform. 

Shallwani said polio is a “terrible” disease that can cause paralysis in children.

“Unfortunately, it continues to be a threat to our children because some people refuse to vaccinate children based on misconceptions and false information about the vaccine,” he said. 

He said volunteers will deliver the vaccine to people’s doorsteps from next week, requesting parents to cooperate with them. 

“I implore you to recognize the threat posed by the poliovirus to your children and ensure that you open your doors to facilitate their vaccination,” the health official said. 

Pakistani masses’ doubts regarding polio campaigns were exacerbated in 2011 when the US Central Intelligence Agency set up a fake hepatitis vaccination program to gather intelligence on former Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. 

Undefeated Quetta lock horns with Multan Sultans in PSL 9 clash

Updated 58 min 44 sec ago

Undefeated Quetta lock horns with Multan Sultans in PSL 9 clash

  • Multan Sultans lost their first match of the tournament to Peshawar Zalmi this week 
  • Despite the loss, the Sultans top the Pakistan Super League points table due to strong run rate

ISLAMABAD: The undefeated Quetta Gladiators will be put to the test today, Sunday, when they face table-toppers Multan Sultans in match number 11 of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 set to take place in Multan. 

The Sultans sit pretty at the top of the table with six points from four matches. However, they lost to former champions Peshawar Zalmi on Friday by five wickets at their home ground in Multan. 

Under new skipper Rilee Rossouw, however, the Gladiators have won all three matches of theirs. 

“I am aware of the conditions on Multan hence I don’t encounter any difficulties playing there,” Rossouw said. “Every match is a new contest, we will implement our plan to win it.”

The Gladiators have the same number of points as the Gladiators, six, from three matches. However, they are placed at number two on the table due to a net run rate of +0.686. The Sultans have a run rate of +0.812 from their four matches. 

The match between the two sides is expected to begin at 2:00 p.m.

Playing XIs (probable):

Multan Sultans: Mohammad Rizwan (c & wk), Dawid Malan, Reeza Hendricks, Yasir Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, David Willey, Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Ali, Shahnawaz Dahani

Quetta Gladiators: Saud Shakeel, Jason Roy, Rilee Rossouw (c), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Khawaja Nafay, Shefane Rutherford, Akeal Hosein, Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Wasim, Mohammad Hasnain

Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly elects speaker from majority party 

Updated 25 February 2024

Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly elects speaker from majority party 

  • Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Owais Qadir Shah secures 111 votes to win speaker’s election 
  • Election for the post of Sindh chief minister is scheduled to be held on Monday

KARACHI: Elections for the coveted posts of speaker and deputy speaker of Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly will be held today, Sunday, state-run media said, a day after newly elected members of the assembly were sworn in. 

Saturday’s oath-taking ceremony was marred by protests in Karachi staged by supporters of various political parties who allege that the Feb. 8 elections were heavily rigged. 

Supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Grand Democratic Alliance, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and other nationalist parties gathered near the provincial assembly in Karachi’s southern zone to protest alleged manipulation of Feb. 8 election, which was marred by a mobile network outage and delays in release of constituency results.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which bagged the highest number of seats in Sindh, has nominated Murad Ali Shah, former Sindh chief minister, for the top provincial office once again. The party has also nominated Syed Owais Shah for the role of speaker, and Anthony Naveed for the post of deputy speaker of the Sindh provincial assembly.

“Elections of speaker and deputy speaker of Sindh Assembly will be held on Sunday,” the state-run Radio Pakistan said in a report. “On the other hand, the election of Sindh Chief Minister will be held tomorrow (Monday).”

The PPP bagged 84 seats in the southern Pakistani province, followed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) which secured 28 seats, while 14 seats were won by independent candidates. The JI and the GDA won two seats each.

While the inaugural Sindh Assembly session was in progress, several Pakistani parties on Saturday announced they would observe February 27 as a “Black Day” in response to Sindh police firing tear gas at their supporters protesting suspected rigging in the general elections earlier this month.

In view of the protest calls, the Sindh caretaker government on Friday imposed a ban under Section 144 on public assembly, gatherings, protests, processions, and demonstrations in Karachi’s South zone, where the provincial legislature is located, for a period of 30 days, according to the provincial home department.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the administration to issue orders in public interest and place a ban on any activity for a specific period of time.