The Lahore High Court Fridday directed the interior ministry to decide in three days the application of an Indian woman seeking Pakistani citizenship and extension to her visa after embracing Islam and marrying a local man during her visit here to attend the Sikhs’ Baisakhi festival.
Kiran Bala (Amna Bibi), daughter of Manohar Lal from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district, had arrived Lahore by a special train on April 12 to attend Baisakhi festival. During her visit, she embraced Islam and married a resident of Hingerwal, Lahore, on April 16 at a ceremony held at an Islamic seminary here.
“LHC Justice Jawadul Hasan has directed the interior ministry to decide the application of Amna Bibi (Kiran Bala) seeking Pakistani nationality and visa extension by coming Monday,” a court official said after the hearing.
He said the Indian woman filed the petition in the LHC through advocate Ijaz Ahmad. He said the judge also directed the Indian woman and her Pakistani husband to appear in person before the interior ministry office in Islamabad on Monday.
Clad in black gown and pink coloured scarf and holding a ‘Tasbhi’ in her hands, the Indian woman appeared in the court along with her husband Mohammad Azam.
She pleaded the court that she had contracted marriage with Azam of Lahore with her consent as she was not coerced to do so.
“I want to live in Pakistan after marrying a Pakistani man. I am very happy here along with my husband and I do not want to go back. I have embraced Islam and my new name is Amna,” she said.
“After getting married with a Pakistani man I am entitled to get citizenship of Pakistan under Section 10 (2) of the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951,” she said.
She also prayed the court to order interior ministry extend her visa so that she could live with her husband in Pakistan. Her counsel Advocate Ijaz Ahmad told reporters that her client is hopeful to get a favourable decision from the interior ministry.
“My client has a valid visa to stay in Pakistan till April 21. Earlier, she had filed an application with the interior ministry for visa extension but no decision in this respect has been taken yet. After marrying a Pakistani man she is entitled to have Pakistani citizenship,” he said.
The Baisakhi festival has already created bitterness after India accused Pakistan of using it to incite Indian Sikh pilgrims on the issue of ‘Khalistan’, which was rejected by Islamabad.
After contracting marriage, Kiran Bala wrote to the Foreign Office for extension to her visa as she is receiving “life threats”.
“Now in the given circumstances, the undersigned could not return back to India and the undersigned have received life threats of assassination, therefor, the undersigned intends to extend her visa,” she wrote in the letter.
Talking to reporters at the court premises, Azam, who worked in Saudi Arabia, said he returned to the country to marry Kiran Bala.
“We became friends on Facebook. And then we decided to marry,” he said.
There are reports that Kiran Bala’s first husband died in 2005. Her father said he was devastated by her step. “I knew about Kiran-Azam friendship but had no idea that she would marry him on her visit to Pakistan,” he said.