Distraught man claims daughter being ‘held’ in Jamia Hafsa

In this photograph taken on April 17, 2009, Lal Masjid’s chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz (C) prepares to lead Friday prayers in Islamabad.  – AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: An old, distraught father joined the civil society’s campaign against Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid on Monday, but for a difficult battle of his own.

Father Abdul Qayyum surprised the campaigners, gathered at the Aabpara police station, to ask the police to add charges under anti-terrorism law to the FIR against the maulana, by presenting his own grievance against the maulana’s wife, Umme Hassan.

It looked strange that while the civil society is campaigning to ‘free’ Lal Masjid from Maulana Aziz, Mr Qayyum is out to ‘free’ his daughter from the Jamia Hafsa seminary for girls run by Umm-e-Hassan.

A resident of Muslim Town locality in Rawalpindi who played professional cricket for the Gulf state of Sharjah, Mr. Qayyum claimed that his graduate daughter Uzma deserted the family seven months ago, and was ‘being kept’ in Jamia Hafsa.

Uzma, 26, did a four-year course in a religious educational institute after her graduation and left her home suddenly one night, according to her father.

A burial shroud she left on her bed signified she was gone for good.

Later, a call came from Umm-e-Hassan informing that she had taken up residence in Jamia Hafsa, said the father.

All his efforts since to regain her have failed, he said.

“I wrote to religious figures for help but none responded. I tried to file a complaint against Jamia Hafsa but Aabpara police won’t do that. A gunman of Lal Masjid tortured me in front of the Aabpara police station for trying that,” he said.

When the parents’ pleas pestered her too much, he alleged, Umm-e-Hassan threatened leveling “such a shameful charge that I would not be able to survive in the society”.

“My daughter is willing to return home but Umm-e-Hassan never allowed me to meet her in privacy. I feel she has brainwashed my daughter,” Mr Qayyum claimed to Dawn.

His young, bearded companion, Muhammad Imran, gave a new angle to the story by saying that he was engaged to Uzma three years ago and had left immediately afterwards for Saudi Arabia.

“When I came back, I learnt that Uzma has gone to Jamia Hafsa and is not willing to return home. I have tried many times to contact her but failed,” he said.

Mr. Qayyum added that he had requested Umm-e-Hassan to arrange Imran’s Nikah with Uzma and let her go with her husband but she replied that Istikhara (guidance from holy Quran) did not favour the match.

Umm-e-Hassan, however, denied all the allegations against her to Dawn.

She said Uzma came to her institution saying she did not want to live with her “harassing” father.

“Since we are already burdened with so many difficulties, I was not ready to take a new responsibility. I tried my best to persuade her to return to her family but she refused. I also offered her to arrange her Nikah with Imran and leave with him but she again refused, saying that her Istikhara did not approve of the union,” said the head of Jamia Hafsa.

“Still I did not want to keep her in Jamia Hafsa. I knew that her family would level allegations against me so I decided to send her to a magistrate. He initially sent her to Darul Aman (a government shelter for women) and after four days recorded her statement in which she said that she wants to live in Jamia Hafsa. So the court sent her here,” she said.

“She is 26 years old and according to the laws of Pakistan and Islam she has the right to live anywhere she wants. That becomes an issue when parents want to force their children to marry a person of their choice but in this case it seems it is so just because the girl is in Jamia Hafsa. “Everyone wants that she should marry against her wish,” said Umm-e-Hassan.

SHO Khalid Awan of Aabpara Police Station agreed that the law is on the girl’s side. In the statement she recorded under section 164 before Magistrate Kamran Cheema (on July 10, 2014) she said that she does not want to live with her parents.

“We cannot file a case because, according to the law, every adult Pakistani has the right to live wherever he or she wants to live,” said the officer.

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