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Pakistan court sends married pupil back to school

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A Pakistani court Thursday ordered a married pupil back to school, saying that tying the knot was no grounds for expulsion despite teachers’ fears of gossip.

Ghairat Khan, a seventh grader with a beard, was thrown out of an elite English-language school in the northwestern city of Peshawar seven months ago because teachers believed marital relations were inappropriate playground talk.

“The court reinstated Ghairat Khan and he will rejoin school tomorrow. The board of directors at the school has been ordered to submit an explanation by December 15,” court official Musaddiq Hussain Gilani told AFP.

Khan, whose school record says he was born in April 1997 but who told AFP he was 18 years old, attended classes at Peshawar Model School with 12 and 13-year-old boys.

“I am very happy,” Khan told AFP.

“Today we went to court where the director of education and school board members were summoned. The court asked the director if any government rules barred married students. The reply was in the negative.”

Defence lawyer, Isa Khan, said the boy had been “made victim”.

“Today we won, but I regret the loss of precious school time,” Khan said.

Principal Beatrice Jamil said the court order would be respected and that the boy would be welcomed back to school immediately.

Khan’s disputed age is not uncommon in Pakistan, where children can fall back several years at school. Khan said he married his 16-year-old cousin because his father died and his mother was ill.

Under civil law in Pakistan, boys can marry at 18 and girls 16, but under Islamic law, younger unions are permitted with parental consent.

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