The Case of Shamema Honzagool

Mohammad Ismail Sloan
917 Old Trent's Ferry Road
Lynchburg, Virginia 24503
U. S. A.

July 4, 1983

To: The Extra-Assistant Commissioner
Chitral District
Northwest Frontier Province

Dear Sir:

Asalaimo Alaikum.

On February 21, 1980, I was married in Chitral to a Chitrali girl. This marriage took place at her parents home in Village Damik, which is in the vicinity of Jinjoret, near Drosh, in the Chitral District. We now have a baby daughter, whose name is Shamema Sloan. Shamema was born an October 15, 1981 and is presently living with me in Lynchburg, Virginia, U. S. A.

I have heard a rumor from one of my many friends in Chitral that you personally have recently issued a decree divorcing me from my Chitrali wife, whose name is Khonza Gul. I also understand that many Chitralis are dismayed at the illegal and un-Islamic action which you have taken.

It is a great crime against Islam for any man to interfere in the relations between another man and his lawful wife. This is particularly in a case such as this, where the rights of an innocent child are affected. If your order of divorce is allowed to stand, the practical consequence will be that my daughter, Shamema, will be deprived of contact with her natural mother during her formative years and similarly Khonza Gul will be deprived of any contact with her daughter, until at least Shamema is mature.

Although Khonza Gul is presently residing in her mother's house in Damik, I have received numerous reports from reliable sources that she wants to return to the United States. However, she will not be able to do so, unless she is married to me. I also understand that the mother of Khonza Gul is still in favor of our marriage, as of a recent date.

Knowing the situation am I do, after having lived with it for the last three and a half years, it is clear to me how you happened to issue this decree of divorce. The man who arranged this marriage was Aziz-ur-Rehman Chughtay of Drosh, and he did so for his own personal financial gain. Later, he decided to destroy this marriage, in order gain even greater profits thereby. On April 20, 1981, he forcibly removed my wife from my home in New York City, U.S.A., because I was no longer either willing or able to meet his substantial demands. Since then, he has been gaining huge financial profits from funds he has been soliciting, supposedly in behalf of my wife. If you will look around, you will notice that he does not have any job in Chitral. In fact, he will admit that. he has been "out of work" for several years. However, he lives quite comfortably, all because of the profits he has extorted as a result of this marriage between myself and Khonza Gul.

It is obvious from the entire history of this case that what must have happened is that Aziz-ur-Rehman, or somebody closely connected with him, approached you in Pashtu and requested that you issue an order of divorce. Not being a Chitrali and not knowing the history of this case or the character or the reputation of the people you were dealing with, you issued this divorce decree. Perhaps Aziz-ur-Rehman told you the monstrous lie, which he has been telling everybody who is willing to listen, that I "threw her from the house", not mentioning the fact that has personally came to the house while I was sleeping and dragged her from there. Also, he probably neglected to mention that he has been stating that he has made arrangements to have me killed, should I try to come to Chitral to claim my wife.

In any event, your order of divorce is illegal, null and void under the civil law of Pakistan, not to mention the religious law and the tribal law. To institute a divorce proceeding against me, you were required to notify me in writing that a divorce case was under way. You were also required to give me a chance to respond in court and to defend myself as well as the interests of my wife and our daughter. It is also relevant that the actions of Aziz-ur-Rehman and his henchmen led to a much publicized court case in Bronx, New York, U.S.A. The result of this case was that the judge ruled that there was no evidence that I had mistreated Khonza Gul in any way. He also ruled that Khonza Gul and I were legally married to each other under the law of the United States and that our daughter, Shamema, was legitimate. This ruling led to a chain of events whereby I acquired custody of our daughter. Also, shortly thereafter, Aziz-ur-Rehman was arrested and deported to Pakistan. Because of these circumstances, it is obvious that an uniformed Pakistani court, which has not had the opportunity to hear both sides of this case should not attempt to re-litigate the issues already decided by the New York court in my favor.

I feel I should mention here that the henchmen of Aziz-ur-Rehman who are still in the United States have just recently decided to start up that case again. Only two weeks ago, their lawyer filed a new motion for "resettlement" of the previous court decisions, which are obviously unsatisfactory from their point of view. It is clear that they will try again and again to make trouble and create disturbances through various court cases, especially since they are all the time collecting donations to support these activities from persons who are uninformed as to the facts. However, up to now, the only concrete success they have achieved is your order of divorce, and I hereby request that you rescind that order.

It is a matter of great urgency that you take immediate action in this regard. Under Islamic law, when three months have passed after an order of divorce, the woman becomes free to marry another man. In this case, I am sure that Khonza Gul does not want to be married to any other man. However, I am equally sure that that Aziz-ur-Rehman will force her family to marry her quickly, the moment that three months have passed. Unfortunately, one major problem I have constantly had, without which all of this could never have happened, is that all of the uncle and brothers of Khonza Gul are rather weak and backward individuals. As much as they despise Aziz-ur-Rehman for what he has done to their family, they are unwilling or unable to muster the courage publicly to oppose his nefarious schemes. This is why it is especially important for Islamic law to be strictly followed and applied in this case, so as to protect Khonza Gul and her family from the manipulations of Aziz-ur-Rehman.

It is well established that a woman has no unilateral right to a divorce under Islamic law. She can only obtain a divorce under five strictly limited circumstances, none of which have any application to this case. Moreover, an order of divorce by a civil judge cannot override the religious law. Therefore, any man who marries Khonza Gul in her present condition will be committing adultery in the eyes of God, all because of your illegal order. From this and from other circumstances, it is clear that Aziz-ur-Rehman intends to marry Khonza Gul in Peshawar, Karachi or Lahore, where her prospective husband would have no way of knowing her history or the true facts of her situation.

Finally, I just want to mention that an Extra-Assistant Commissioner in Chitral has no jurisdiction to issue an order of divorce, in any case. Chitral is still considered a "tribal area" when it comes to matrimonial matters, and only a "Jirgah Council" can issue a decree of divorce.

For all of these reasons, I urgently request that you vacate your previous decision and order.

Sincerely Yours,

Mohammad Ismail Sloan

Background to this letter: In mid-1983, Prince Asad-ur-Rehman of Chitral informed me that a new judge from Kohat had been assigned to be the Extra-Assistant Commissioner of Chitral and that a suit for divorce of my wife from me had been filed before that new judge and that he had almost immediately granted that divorce on default.

Accordingly, I wrote above letter and then went to Chitral, arriving on September 14, 1983.

Upon receipt of my letter, the EAC of Chitral, whose name was Mian Hafiz-ur-Rahman, had immediately set aside his default judgment and had set the matter for a hearing.

A few days after my arrival in Chitral, Raja Ehsan Aziz, who had aspirations to marry my wife, came from Islamabad and tried to file a case against me before that same Mian Hafiz-ur-Rahman. The EAC refused to accept that filing. Raja Ehsan Aziz returned to Islamabad after only spending one night in Chitral. He then wrote newspaper articles attacking all the officials of Chitral in general and Judge Mian Hafiz-ur-Rahman in particular. These articles were published by Mohammed Salah-ud-Din in the Daily Jasarat in Karachi as well as in the Daily Nawa-i-Waqt and in the Daily Jang in Rawalpindi.

The judges in Chitral are always brought in from "down district". The reasoning for this is that a Chitrali judge will be biased and will not render a fair decision. This is not a new policy. Before the break-up of Pakistan in 1971, the judges were brought in from East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh. This was a policy introduced by the British centuries ago. As result, the judge on this case, Mian Hafiz-ur-Rahman, was totally unfamiliar with the Khowar language of Chitral and would not have been able to communicate with my wife except through translators, had she ever been produced before him, and she was not.

In March, 1984, Mian Hafiz-ur-Rahman, the Extra-Assistant of Chitral, was found murdered in Village Sinlasht, Chitral, near the power station. His head had been cut open with a hatchet and his dead body had been thrown in the river. The murder remains officially unsolved.

Because the courts of Chitral were unwilling to render a judgment in favor of Aziz-ur-Rehman and Raja Ehsan Aziz, they filed a new case for the divorce of Honzagool from me in the Rawalpindi Family Court in April, 1984. I was never notified of this case and did not learn of it until 1989. The court records which I was able to review show that there were numerous hearings over a period of more than one year before various judges, all of whom were unwilling to issue this divorce decree without notifying me of the case. Finally, in June, 1985, a judge, Judge Shauket Nawaz Gul, was found who was willing to issue an ex-party divorce decree. Honzagool was divorced from me and married to Raja Abdul Rashid, the cousin/brother of Raja Ehsan Aziz, the same day. Court records show that the only witness who appeared and testified in this case was Raja Ehsan Aziz.

For the letter from the EAC of Chitral, see: Letter from the EAC of Chitral, who was later found murdered .

For an Urdu language article, see: Article attackling the EAC of Chitral, who was later found murdered .

For more about this "divorce", see: Reasons Why Honzagool is Still Legally my Wife . For the "divorce decree" itself, see: Ex-Party Order of Rawalpindi Family Court in Pakistan .

For my letter to the brother of Aziz-ur-Rehman, see: Letter to Amin-ur-Rehman .

More than 100 articles have appeared about this in the newspapers of Pakistan. Many of those articles personally attacked Mian Hafiz-ur-Rahman, the judge on this case, who was later found murdered. For a typical example of one of those articles, see: Daily Nawa-i-Waqt for 6 October 1983 .
For a photo of Honzagool being prepared for marriage to me, see: Preparations for Marriage .For two other photos of Honzagool, see: Honzagool . For a photo of the family of Honzagool, see: Family of Honzagool in Chitral, Pakistan . For a photo of me and of our daughter Shamema, see: Shamema .

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