Sara Sharif: Pakistan court moves siblings to government childcare facility

A photo of Sara Sharif outside her family home

By Caroline Davies, Pakistan correspondent & Andre Rhoden-Paul

in Jhelum and London

A judge in Pakistan has ruled Sara Sharif’s siblings, who travelled from the UK with her father, should be sent to a government childcare facility.

The five children were found at the home of their grandfather in Jhelum, north-eastern Pakistan.

Sara, 10, was found dead at her family home in Woking, Surrey, on 10 August – a day after three adults, including her father, left the UK.

Post-mortem tests found Sara sustained “multiple and extensive injuries”.

Sara’s father Urfan Sharif, stepmother Beinash Batool and his brother Faisal Malik left the UK with five children aged between one and 13.

Surrey Police said they would like to speak to the three adults in relation to Sara’s death, and were “absolutely committed to conducting a thorough investigation”.

Pakistan police have so far been unable to locate them.

On Tuesday, a court ruled Sara’s five siblings should be sent to a Pakistan government childcare facility temporarily.

The ruling did not state how long the children may be kept in the government facility for. It also does not determine where the children will ultimately be sent.

The children arrived at court in a police car with blacked out windows. The younger ones were carried in by family members, as they were surrounded by armed police and local media.

They appeared in the first court for around 40 minutes before a judge concluded it did not have jurisdiction to make the decision.

The siblings were then moved to another court, where the BBC was allowed to join.

While the judge asked questions of their grandfather and his lawyer, they sat on chairs at the side, legs dangling. The eldest child comforted the youngest, pacing the court while bouncing them.

At one point the children’s family brought in refreshments – cartons of juice and packets of biscuits.

All five were sent to a waiting police car before the verdict was announced.

Sara’s grandfather Muhammad Sharif, who is Urfan Sharif’s father, made no comment as he left court. He had made a request to the court for the children to stay with him.

Police took the children from Mr Sharif’s house, in Jhelum, on Monday, before returning them, on the condition he would bring them to court the next day.

He had earlier told BBC News the children had been staying at his home since their arrival on 10 August.

“I told Urfan and Beinash that they can go wherever they want to, but I will not let the children go with you. Until today, no one had asked me about the children.

“They kept asking me about Urfan, Faisal and Beinash, no one asked me about the children.”

Mr Sharif has repeatedly denied being in touch with his son or knowing where he is.

BBC News also spoke to sisters of Urfan Sharif, who said the children were very upset when they were taken from their grandfather’s home.

“The children were crying, the police were dragging them away,” Farzana Malik said.

Urfan Sharif, Beinash Batool and Faisal Malik
Image caption,Sara’s father Urfan Sharif, his partner Beinash Batool and his brother Faisal Malik are wanted by police

Eyewitnesses told the BBC that police officers raided the property just before 16:30 local time (12:30 BST) on Monday. Officers stopped traffic and prevented anyone from filming on their phones, neighbours said.

Mr Sharif accused the police of breaking CCTV cameras and the gates of his home.

Police confirmed they had taken the children, but Sara’s father, Urfan Sharif, stepmother, Beinash Batool, and uncle, Faisal Malik, were not with them. The police said the children did not resist leaving.

Flowers and pictures of Sarah outside the family home in Woking, Surrey
Image caption,Flowers and pictures of Sarah outside the family home in Woking, Surrey

Surrey Police said “the safety and welfare of these five children has always been a priority for us”, adding that they were working with relevant authorities “to determine the next steps”.

Surrey County Council said its “overriding priority” is the welfare of the children. BBC News understands the council was working through the night to get information to the court in Pakistan.

Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, said they were working with authorities “to best ensure the immediate and longer term safety and wellbeing of the children”.

Sara’s body was found after her father made an emergency call from Pakistan, shortly after landing in Islamabad.

The BBC also visited the family home in Woking, Surrey, on Tuesday where, more than a month after Sara’s body was found, there was still a police presence.

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