9th April 2022

Staff report

As soon as they crossed the Wagah Border and set foot on their homeland, Sameera believed that her four-year-old daughter would finally know freedom. The little girl was born and raised behind bars, in a country where neither she nor her mother belonged.

Her world was the prison she grew up in, and Sameera wanted nothing more than to be able to hold her daughter’s hand and lead her out to stand free under the sky, to live someplace she could call home, to have a happy family.

It has been two weeks since, and mother and child once again find themselves sequestered behind the thick walls of a women’s shelter, unable to live as truly free citizens of the country.

Under threat from her family members who disproved of her free-will marriage, abandoned by her husband, and without a penny to her name, Sameera has no choice but to remain confined until at least she is able to find her footing. Given her options, she fears she and her daughter will stay trapped for a long time.

“I feel like I’m still in a prisoner. I am unable to take my daughter anywhere. I promised I would show her the world, because my little girl has been a prisoner since the day she was born,” she lamented.

Sameera had already spent six months in a women’s shelter in India, pending confirmation that she was indeed a citizen of Pakistan. She and her daughter would have likely spent a very long time in that shelter had her situation never made the airwaves here. Sameera finds no coincidence in the fact that Pakistani authorities confirmed her citizenship within two weeks of her story being run in major news publications.

“I was so lost. But my lawyer, Sahana Basavapatna, got me in contact with Nida Aly, Asad Jamal and Senator Irfan Siddiqui, and requested them to raise my plight in the media,” she told Voicepk.net. “I waited for six months for confirmation of my nationality, and after the media picked up my story, I was almost instantly proven a Pakistani citizen.”

“If it wasn’t for the media’s support, I wouldn’t even be here to give this interview.”

Her return was the cap on a story that had been exploited for political mileage – now with nothing left to offer, Sameera and her daughter have been left forgotten in a Pakistani women’s shelter. And her struggle is far from over.

“I want the State to give my daughter a Pakistani nationality. Her nationality was not stated on her birth certificate,” she issued her plea to the Government to process the four-year-old documents so that she can be called a Pakistani. “I don’t want her to be called an Indian. She is my daughter and she is Pakistani. If I am Pakistan’s daughter, then so is she.”

Now Sameera has to secure her daughter’s nationality, and requires enough security so that she is able to find employment and enroll her girl in school. She fears that Pakistan’s bureaucracy will once again stifle their chance at a safe and free life in Pakistan, just as it had left her to suffer unnecessarily in an Indian women’s shelter for six months.

“I am begging the Government to allow me have a normal life with my daughter. I have nothing, no home… I implore the Government to at least set me up with a job so that I can give my daughter a bright future. She should be going to school now.”


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