Islamabad: It is unfortunate that using religion for vested interests has become a norm in Pakistan, said a daily.
An editorial in the Daily Times said that it took almost seven years for a French woman to get her daughter's custody.
Amna, an 11-year-old girl, is the daughter of Ingrid Brainden Burjer and Pakistani Abdul Razzaq who married in 1999 and later divorced. A court in France gave Amna's custody to the mother, but in 2005, Razzaq fled France with his daughter.
A Pakistani court also ruled in the mother's favour in 2009 but Razzaq did not comply with the court's order. After the Lahore High Court also ruled in Burjer's favour, she was finally able to take her daughter back to France.
The editorial said that Razzaq's counsel argued in court that since Amna's mother is a Christian woman, she cannot raise a Muslim child.
"...This begs the question whether the father's argument was based on a religious or legal principle."
"Unless there are cogent reasons, a child cannot be taken away from a mother's custody in case of a divorce or separation between a couple. It is unfortunate that using religion for vested interests has become a norm in Pakistan," the editorial added.
Burjer was helped by another French woman who had to face a similar predicament.
Noting that there is "a pattern here", the editorial observed that many Pakistani men living abroad end up marrying foreign women.
"In case of a divorce, some of them resort to illegal abduction of their children and surreptitiously moving back to Pakistan with them. This is not just morally wrong, it is also illegal.”
"People cannot circumvent the law based on a spurious argument about religious differences. It is best to have a mutually accommodating arrangement with visiting rights but a minor child's custody cannot be taken away from a mother just because of the religion card.”
"The 'mother principle' trumps religion," the editorial said.
First Published: Monday, February 20, 2012, 13:43