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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 21:56 GMT
Appeal over children in Pakistan
A High Court judge in London has issued an urgent plea for four Oxfordshire children being kept in Pakistan by their father to be returned to the UK.

Their mother, Asma Akhtar, of Banbury, was granted an order in July making the children wards of court.

At the same time, the father, Mohammed Zahoor Akhtar, obtained a court order in Pakistan preventing the removal of his children from that country.

The children, who are UK citizens, went to Pakistan in April this year.

Halima, 10, her four-year-old sister Harja and their brothers Ali, five, and Haier, two, were on holiday with their parents - who are also UK citizens - in Dubai during the Easter school holidays.

Reporting restrictions lifted

With the mother's consent, the children were then taken to Pakistan by their father for the remainder of the holiday on the understanding that they would return to the UK on 26 April.

On 31 October, Family Division judge Mr Justice Ryder gave permission for the case to be raised in the House of Commons by Paul Rowen MP, who was concerned about the children, at the instigation of their mother.

Now the judge has lifted reporting restrictions which normally apply to cases involving children in the hope that wider publicity will secure the children's return.

The wardship order was linked to a law enforcement protocol between the English and Pakistani legal authorities in the hope of securing the children's return to the UK.

The judge has given an assurance that, on the return of the children, the court will deal with any dispute "from first principles, without assuming one parent has a greater right over the other and at all times pursuant to the welfare interests of the children".

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Pakistan
03 Nov 07 |  Country profiles

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