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(Family Division, Hogg J, 21 December 2012)
The parents, who were cousins, were married by Nikah in Pakistan. Following the marriage the father returned to the UK while the mother remained in Pakistan. The father returned to Pakistan to visit the mother but when the mother's visa application was refused the father moved to Pakistan on a permanent basis.
The child, now 3, was born in Pakistan and the family moved into the ancestral home. When the father opened a fabric shop he began spending several nights per week away from the home and had in fact entered into a second marriage. Following an agreement the father claimed he divorced the second wife.
When a British passport was obtained for the child from the High Commission in Islamabad the father took her to the UK. The father claimed the mother knew they were going and packed a bag for the child. The mother disputed this and claimed to have been extremely distressed. She immediately issued proceedings through a family member to have the child returned to Pakistan.
In proceedings in the English court a number of witnesses gave evidence via video-link from Pakistan, including the mother as she was not permitted entry to the UK in order to give evidence. That evidence supported the mother's claim that she did not consent to the child's removal. The judge made declarations that the child was habitually resident in Pakistan and was unlawfully removed by the father.
It was in the best interests of the child to return to Pakistan. After being born and raised for 3 years in Pakistan she had been removed from her mother and placed in a totally alien environment. The mother had no possibility for the foreseeable future of obtaining a visa to live in the UK and therefore if the child were returned she would be lost to her forever. However, the father was free to return to Pakistan if he wished.
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