A brave Pakistani Christian woman who spoke up about the sexual harassment she faced at the hands of a man named Ayaz who is still currently working in
a senior position at the Pakistan Embassy has lost any possibly of justice in Thai jurisdiction, but has been given at least some hope that her assailant
may be investigated further by his employers.
Ayaz is responsible for machine-readable passport processing and ultimately can say yes or no to applications submitted to him, an authority he
tried to use against vulnerable Maherwar Ishaq in his pursuit to have a sexual relationship with her.
When Maherwar decided to apply for a passport, with a view to using it to collect Western Union transferred donations from friendly donors who were
concerned about her plight, she was without request thrust to the front of a long queue of applicants. Though she was surprised at the special
treatment Maherwar only became worried when she was asked to attend a private meeting after closing time, to discuss her options for a passport renewal.
Mr. Ayaz explained to her that she would not normally be able to sanction such a renewal but that he would make an exception for her. This
was contrary to a discussion he had held with Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association only months earlier. In
the meeting with Mr. Chowdhry it had been confirmed that no discrimination took place for asylum seekers as they remained Pakistani citizens till they
Maherwar agreed to the meeting due to the pressure she felt within the confines of the Embassy but fearing the worst she failed to attend. However
after a series of text and phone conversations, in which Ayaz even threatened to permanently block Maherwar from ever applying for a passport, she
caved in and agreed to meet on the condition that the topic of discussion would be based on the passport only.
For her safety British Pakistani Christian Association also contacted a local man who gave her a secret recording device and agreed to chaperone from
Ayaz set the meeting point at a restaurant at a well known hotel which would have been a very safe environment. However he bullied her into a
car and then took her to several venues before she ended up in a unused flat in a condo. Here she was offered a drink that she refused three times
despite a very forceful attempt to make her drink it - Maherwar believes it would have been laced with a sedative such as Rophenol. Throughout her
conversation with Ayaz, Maherwar kept bringing him back to her application, a subject he kept ignoring whilst he asked her to be his friend. She
was also smacked and threatened during a traumatic incident that resulted in her pushing Ayaz's shoulders with all her might after he attempted to
The force of her push made Ayaz lose his balance and as he fell to a bed Maherwar escaped by unlocking the door to the room in which she was held captive.
Maherwar ran towards a lift and then had to endure a frightening moment as she prayed for lift doors to shut, watching as a raging Ayaz ran towards
her with venom in his eyes. Read full story (click here)
On 25th May British Pakistani Christian Association registered a complaint at the Pakistan Embassy on behalf Maherwar Ishaq, and sought ''the removal
of a sexual predator amongst your employed staff".
The Pakistani Embassy's reaction to the incident has been galling. They have stated that they require an interview with Maherwar Ishaq but refuse to
hold the interview on neutral ground. Mr Chowdhry obtained a concession from the UNHCR who agreed to provide an officer who would act as a chaperone
for Maherwar on neutral territory. The UNHCR are refusing to provide a chaperone at the Pakistan Embassy which left Maherwar and BPCA in a quandary.
However an appeal through a BPCA friend led to a contact with a charity that provides legal assistance to asylum seekers in Thailand, which has resulted
in a solicitor who has taken up her challenge with the Pakistan Embassy. They are flabbergasted that the UNHCR did not send Maherwar to the Police
who they believe would not have arrested her but would have taken appropriate action against Ayaz the sex pest. However as the crime had gone beyond
3 months it is no longer able to be prosecuted under Thai law. Maherwar needed to suddenly relocate after the incident because her address on her passport
application had been clearly compromised and this leaves her in a continual state of fear that the Thai immigration police will intercept her
in a similar fashion should she go to a location like the Pakistani Embassy.
After a prayer request for Maherwar released by the BPCA reached a supporter in Canada, she informed us of a very similar incident of sexual harassment
of a Pakistani-Canadian woman at the Pakistani Consulate in Toronto, Canada. Bizarrely or coincidentally the man involved in that assault was also
working as lead officer for machine-readable passport processing. In that incident the unnamed assailant who locked an innocent unsuspecting woman
in a room and allegedly sexually assault her, accused the woman of 'being a liberal and a model' states the Toronto Sun (click here).
Like many men brought up in a sexually repressed and patriarchal Pakistan, his comment and actions exhibits an expected sexual neuroticism and deviance.
If you feel disgusted at the lecherous behaviour of a Pakistani Embassy official in Thailand, please sign our petition (click here). Please also encourage media groups to write about Maherwars plight.
Please email the Pakistani Embassy in Thailand and request justice for Maherwar Ishaq and immediate removal of sex pest Ayaz: email@example.com
has shaken the BPCA team to the core is the fact that the initial response from the Pakistani Embassy which was copied to the Christian Post (click here) ,
who were helping us with our inquiry stated the following (sic):
Thanks for your response. Embassy has taken a serious note of the complaint by Ms. Maherwar Ishaq as it is unprecedented.Therefore, a committee
will conduct an enquiry into the matter and it includes one female member, Aqsa Nawaz, Head of Chancery, who will provide every possible mental and
psychological relief to the applicant.
However, as per the rules of business, the enquiry committee can't conduct officials meeting outside the Embassy premises to probe the matter. Hence, it
is emphasized again that Ms. Ishaq may be asked to approach the Embassy directly or we may be provided her contact detaila so that the just be done
after complete investigation. Given the sensitivity of the charges, it is once again assured that Ms. Ishaq will be provided every possible assurance
for her safety during the course of investigation.
Moreover, we don't see any role of UNHCR or any third party into the matter as it will be dealt according to the set rules and regulations which are very
We would appreciate your quick response so that the relief may be provided to the alleged victim and her dignity may be restored at the earliest.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
After a series fo further emails Maherwar and the BPCA hit a wall. The refusal of the Embassy to hold their interview on neutral ground, meant that the
investigation was to be dropped. BPCA contacted other charities for some help and were able to secure a local Thai solicitor through one who also
met with the same obstacle to progress.
Also a Canadian woman, Keri-Lynn Gibbs, who is now our lead volunteer in Canada, was so moved by the plight of Maherwar she organised a protest in Edmonton,
Canada on September 30th. The protest will highlight persecution in Pakistan and call for Maherwar's asylum under Canada's 'Declaration of Refugee Protection for Women'Details
for the protest can be found (here).
In recent days however after pressure from the solicitor, and a series of emails from the BPCA to all members of the Overseas Pakistani Commission, it seems some progress has been made. An email that was not forwarded to either the BPCA or Maherwar's solicitor from the Embassy, read as follows (sic):
Dear Ms. Maherwar Ishaq
'In the light of new evidence, the Enquiry committee formed to probe the subject matter has re-opened its proceedings. You are requested to appear
before the Enquiry Committee on 26th September 2017 at 10:30 A.M in the office of the Counsellor (Consular Affairs) located in the Embassy
of Pakistan Bangkok (Address 31 Sukhumwit Soi 3 Nan Nue Bangkok).
You may be accompanied by one individual (Assistant, Lawyer etc). It would be appreciated if mobile phones or recording devices, if any, are left
outside the office.
The Commitee will proceed according to the Pakistan's Protection against Harassment of Women at the Work Place Act 2010.
The Enquiry Committee comprises of three officers of the Embassy.
You will be required to stay at the Embassy not more than one and half hour.
Please make a note that the proceedings of the Committee can't be continued for an unlimited time period. Therefore, to save your and Embassy Officials
precious time, it may be considered as a last effort to take the matter to its logical conclusion.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
What concerns BPCA about this email is the description of this interview of Maherwar as 'a last effort to take the matter to it's
logical conclusion'. The Embassy has at its disposal a full audio of the recording and Ayaz has a very recognizable nasal
voice which is also quite camp. Besides what may be a logical conclusion to us in the west may not be as logical in Pakistan's
What concerns Maherwar is the extreme fear she feels in returning to the place from which her ordeal began. Returning to the embassy
will be an extremely traumatic experience for Maherwar and she is still deciding whether she will attend. A small consolation
for her is the fact that she can take one witness with her and we are discussing with her the option to take her Thai solicitor.
Maherwar was brave enough to recount her experience as an asylum seeker and the persecution that led to her family fleeing Pakistan
in Breitbart an on-line magazine. She used a pseudonym but allowed a picture fo her to be shared in the article (click here).
She has now suffered a hugely traumatic sexual harassment incident which could easily have been a rape had she not stayed lucid
throughout the event and found an exit strategy. She has suffered enough please sign our petition for Maherwar (click here).
We are also seeking funds towards a sponsorship for Maherwar into Edmonton, Canada and already have some people willing to be a
part of that sponsorship group. If you would like to contribute towards this campaign please (click here)
UNHCR in Thailand's failure to advise Maherwar correctly when she went to them for help after Ayaz's lechery, they told her to
stay silent preventing criminal action being taken. Only after a series of complaints from the BPCA did the UNHCR finally agree
to conduct a psychological assessment of Maherwar in July. The psychologist confirmed she is undergoing severe trauma and has prescribed
medication for her. Please pray for this long suffering victim who has been ignored by the agency meant to be protecting
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
"It is highly illogical that Ayaz has been allowed to continue work despite an allegation of serious sexual harrassment. Moreover it is utterly reprehensible that a three person panel is refusing to interview Maherwar out of the grounds of the Pakistan Embassy considering the trauma the visit will trigger. After all during her inquisition she will already feel great anxiety as she recalls her attack.
"Attacks of this nature are not 'unprecedented' despite what the Embassy official told us in her original email. Not only has an identical incident occured in Canada, but also on their home soil to an Afghan refugee at Islamabad airport. Dawn, one of Pakistan's leading newspapers, describes the incident(click here).
"A Muslim NGO has estimated 700 Christian girls and a further 300 minority girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year (click here). News of Maherwar's attack will make it difficult for her to marry anyone under the conventional arranged marriage process in Pakistan steeped in 'honour culture'. If she is not given asylum she is faced with a life of ignominy simply for speaking out against a nasty man who took advantage of her vulnerability.
"If you are a government in the west please offer safety to this poor young woman and her widowed mother, that they might start a life free of the oppression their faith and gender elicits in Pakistan."