A British-Pakistani bride has appealed to British High Commission and Pakistani authorities to save her husband’s life who lives in hiding after a fake case of kidnapping was registered against him by the bride’s family in Lahore after the couple got married in April.
Afshah Sanam, 19, from Stockton, got married to Saul Steve, 27, at a ceremony in Lahore on April 20 and their marriage was registered legally. They got married after Steve converted to Islam from Christianity.
Afshah’s father Khalid Hussain, a Stockton taxi driver originally from Mirpur, and rest of the family members were opposed to British-born Afshah’s marriage to Steve.
There is no independent verification of this but Afshah claims that PTI’s Azad Kashmir leader has used his influence with the PTI government in Punjab to use police to run campaign of terror against her husband and his Christian parents.
The couple got married after a whirlwind romance. They fell in love after meeting on a social media site and talked to each other for hours on Whatsapp.
This year in February, Afshah travelled to Pakistan to meet Steve in Lahore. It was clear immediately that they wanted to marry each other. Afshah returned to her home in Stockton and then returned in April to get married.
She asked her father thrice for permission to get married but he refused. Afshah left for Pakistan without telling her family.
She told “I asked my dad if I could get married to Steve three times. My father initially said no and then issued threats.
I went to Pakistan with just two pairs of clothes. I left the UK on April 18 and reached Pakistan on April 19. I rang my dad and told him I am in Pakistan.
He threatened to kill me and my husband when I told him I am safe.”
She alleges her father reached Pakistan the following day and reached at the house of her in-laws. “The family showed him ‘nikahnama (marriage document)’ and he went into a rage.
My dad bribed the police and got a fake case registered against the poor family of my husband.
Since they are a Christian family, the police raided instantly and my husband and his family ran away to escape arrest. The police arrested my husband’s aunt who had helped us get married. They took her away by putting a black fabric around her eyes.
She was also told that the man who stood in front of her is the Lahore Model Town SP. They kept her in the police station for two months for no reason. I want the IG of Punjab to know of this as it is absolutely wrong.”
Afshah approached the Lahore High Court against the fake FIR but she says the court didn’t take much notice. “My father went to the extreme of influencing our lawyer who asked me to go to Mirpur Kashmir, I got really scared at the suggestion.
My husband told me to return back to the UK as he wanted me to be safe but he said he will hide and try to keep himself safe by hiding here and there.”
Afshah left Pakistan on May 7 and on the same day her in-law’s residence was raided. “The police asked the family of my husband to convince him to give me divorce.
I request the IG of Punjab and Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice of what the Punjab Police has been doing to myself and my husband. My in-laws need help and protection.”
In a statement, Steve told Geo News from a secret hideout in Lahore: “Afshah married of her own free will. I didn’t kidnap her as alleged in the fake FIR.
She’s now in the UK and she confirms that the case is fake. My wife’s father came to Lahore and gave money to people to find me. He told my wife I am a gangster but I am not. He planned to kill us by luring us to go to Kashmir.
He used Mirpur police to come to my home and threaten my family to get Afshah divorced. My aunt was slapped and spat on. My family has been chased and harassed daily.
I am in hiding and I ask Pakistani government to give me safety and justice.”
After coming to Britain, Afshah reported her ordeal to the police in Clevland that her family could harm her.
The police have taken her out of the city and placed her at a safe location where she currently lives hundreds of miles away from her family.
She has appealed to human rights groups, parliamentarians and Pakistani authorities to take notice of the matter and help her.