Child may be reunited with family in Pakistan

By March 3, 2009

Pakistan (MNN) — After months of legal deadlock, lawyers in Pakistan said they have new hope to reunite a family. Saba Masih, a 13-year-old Christian girl, was kidnapped and forced to marry a Muslim. She might be returned to her family, the lawyers said, if they can legally maneuver around Pakistani policemen who have stonewalled their attempts to pursue a kidnapping case against the captors.

Compass Direct reports last week a Pakistani judge charged the suspects with kidnapping for the first time in the seven-month legal ordeal. In spite of the judge's decision, Chawk Munda village police have not followed through with by arresting the three Muslims.

Last week the judge contacted the local police station and ordered officers to register the kidnapping case against the three men, lawyer Arfan Goshe told Compass. He said he hopes police will file the First Instance Report within the next few days.

Attorney Goshe, a Muslim, said the three kidnappers trespassed onto the property of Yunus Masih, the father of Saba, and threatened to kill his family and burn down his house in late December. The violence against the family occurred because the family is Christian.

The decision to file kidnapping charges marks a major shift of momentum in the case. In previous hearings, judges have nearly always sided with the kidnappers — based on either dubious evidence or threats from local Islamists — in the Muslims' legal battle to retain custody of Saba and her 10-year-old sister Aneela, who was allowed to return to her family last September.

Pakistan remains on Open Doors World Watch List of countries who persecute Christians.

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