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Sole surviving member of ill-fated Chitral family to get psychiatric help

Sole surviving member of ill-fated Chitral  family to get psychiatric help

CHITRAL: Hasina Gul, the sole surviving member of a family from Garam Chashma, a village in Chitral, that perished in the PK-661 plane crash on Dec 7, has been referred to a psychiatrist in Islamabad by the medical board constituted at Chitral DHQ Hospital, it emerged on Tuesday.

The medical board established that though she did not have a physical ailment, she was suffering from post-traumatic disorder.

Dr Iftikhar Ahmed, medical superintendent at the Chitral DHQ Hospital, told Dawn that her condition had deteriorated because of the shock of losing her family. He said they had had to refer her to a psychiatrist in Islamabad due to the unavailability of mental health specialists in Chitral.

Hasina was brought to the DHQ hospital two days ago after she complained of anxiety and pain.

Dr Ahmed said that he had asked her guardian to stay with her at the hospital till she left for Islamabad on the first available flight, but he had disregarded his advice and left.

Imranuddin, the child protection officer at Chitral, said the Child Protection Unit had arranged for an ambulance to take her to Islamabad as flights had been delayed till next Friday, but she did not want to travel by road.

He said they were closely monitoring her situation after several people in the area expressed fears that her relatives were scrambling over each other to get close to her and establish a claim to the Rs33 million which she would receive as compensation.

The Child Protection Unit had moved court to ensure legal custody of the 14-year-old as there was a possibility that she could be kept at some place without her consent.

Mr Imranuddin said the court of a senior civil judge had awarded the guardianship certificate to Sher Afzal, her father’s cousin, subject to the fulfilment of certain formalities which included furnishing a bond of Rs3 million.

On the other hand, Khadija Sardar, a human rights activist and Awami National Party leader, has challenged the veracity of guardianship granted to Sher Afzal, saying he could coerce her and extort money from the child.

After meeting Hasina at the hospital on Tuesday, Ms Sardar said that the girl was not happy with the idea of staying with her father’s cousin but dared not express it openly. “When Mr Afzal (the guardian) left the room, Hasina said she did not want to stay with him,” she said.

Sharing her apprehensions about the girl’s safety, Ms Sardar said it was possible that her uncle would go to any lengths to take her money, even marry her off to one of his sons.

She said that Hasina was unaware of the prime minister’s orders to ensure that she was cared for after the media highlighted people’s apprehensions regarding her safety. “She expressed ignorance when I asked why she had not gone to Islamabad with PIA Customer Care Director Tabassum Qadir, who was supposed to take her to Islamabad on the PM’s directive,” Ms Sardar said.

Hasina’s father had not gotten along with Mr Afzal, she explained, and they had had an altercation over a piece of land and were not on talking terms.

This was confirmed by a police official at the Garam Chashma police station, who said that her father had left Hasina with one of his friends, Adina Shah, whose daughter is one of her classmates, before departing aboard the ill-fated flight.

After the plane crash, Hasina was taken to Islamabad for a DNA test and returned to the village with the remains of her family members last Saturday.

Mr Afzal refused to speak to the media saying he wanted nothing to do with them.

Published in Dawn December 21st, 2016

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