Pakistan and US will cooperate on child custody disputes
By Zulfiqar Ghuman
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani and US governments are likely to sign an agreement for consular access to parents living in the two countries over child custody disputes, Daily Times has learned.
Sources said the Ministry of Interior had sought cabinet approval to start negotiations on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on consular cooperation in cases concerning parental access to children between Pakistan and the US. The MoU had been initiated by the US government through its embassy in Islamabad. The US government had proposed an MoU between the two countries. “The proposed MoU aimed to enhance consular and other cooperation and would help in providing access to parents residing in one country, whose children resided in the other country, in conflicts involving family matters of child custody,” sources said. The Pakistani Ministry of Interior endorsed the proposal as mutually beneficial. “The Interior Ministry has sought feedback and consent of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Law, Justice and Human Rights, Religious Affairs, Women Development, Social Welfare and Special Education and the provincial governments in this regard,” they said. Sources also said the draft memorandum of understanding received from the American side had been accepted by the concerned ministries without objection.
According to sources, the MoU had been proposed by the US after receiving complaints over child custody between couples consisting of Pakistani men and American women. “In some cases, the fathers brought their children to Pakistan and did not let them meet their mothers,” they said. Generally in such cases, fathers wanted to keep their children in their country of origin, they said, and wanted to groom them according to their culture, but the mothers objected,” sources said. “In some reported cases, Pakistani parents have forced their American daughters to marry their paternal cousins and then take them abroad.” Pakistan has already signed an agreement with England on the issue after some cases of forced marriages came to the fore, especially in Mirpur where one girl committed suicide after being forced to marry a paternal cousin.