Court hands over custody of 'kidnapped girl' to parents.

KARACHI -- After fighting a legal and media battle for over six months, the parents of a teenage girl who was reportedly kidnapped from Karachi before her underage marriage was solemnised in Punjab last year, were finally able to get her 'interim' custody on Friday.

A Sindh High Court bench comprising Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Kausar Sultana Hussain passed the order to grant 'interim' custody while disposing of a petition filed by her father.

However, the order is subject to a final decision, to be announced by the Guardian and Ward Court/Family Court-XXIX (East) Karachi, where an application for permanent custody of the girl has been pending decision, according to the SHC. 'This order will not affect either any other miscellaneous questions or their solution to be raised by the either party before the said family court,' the bench declared.

Moving scenes were witnessed as the parents met the girl, whose custody was handed over to them immediately after the decision, their counsel Jibran Nasir confirmed to Dawn. At the outset of Friday's proceedings to seek the girl's consent as to whether she wanted to live with her parents or her purported husband, Zaheer Ahmad, the investigating officer DSP Raza Mian and Child Protection Officer Hafiz Noman Iqbal Usmani from the shelter home where the trial court had sent her in July last year as well as Inspector Sajjad Ali on behalf of Sindh IGP Ghulam Nabi Memon appeared.

The judges observed that the teenager's statement was recorded after putting to her necessary questions as to ascertain her identity and the present situation she was in. They noted that the minor girl had correctly identified herself and her parents and said she was living in the Shelter Home for Destitute and Orphan Children, being run by the Child Protection Authority.

'[In] reply to a question as to where she wishes to live, she categorically stated that she wants to live with her parents, who are present in the court and who she has correctly identified along with her little sister,' the judges noted.

The counsel for her purported husband, Zaheer Ahmed, who along with others has been facing charges for allegedly trafficking the girl, aged 14-15 years, to Punjab where the illegal child marriage was solemnised, objected to her father's plea for her custody.

He argued that the petitioner had an efficacious remedy available before the trial court, where his application for permanent custody of the child was pending...

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