Wedding ceremonies for freed cleric
By Shahid Malik in Lahore
Wedding ceremonies have been taking place for freed Muslim cleric Masood Azhar, released by India in return for hostages on board a hijacked Indian airliner in Afghanistan.
A simple ceremony, which was not attended by the bride, has taken place in his home town of Bahawalpur, in the Pakistani province of Punjab.
Some commentators say that the low-key nature of the wedding is because of official Pakistani embarrassment at Mr Masood's presence in the country.
The Pakistani Government, they argue, is sensitive to allegations made by India that it is harbouring people Delhi describes as terrorists.
Mr Masood made a fiercely anti-Indian speech shortly after arriving in Pakistan from jail in India, which it is argued only served to strengthen Islamabad's sensitivities.
Another possible explanation put forward for the low-profile ceremony is a recent presidential ordinance which prohibits lavish spending on marriage ceremonies.
But the real reason for the spartan ceremony is much simpler.
It was held to solemnise, and not consummate, the marriage as part of a protracted wedding procedure not unusual among Pakistani Muslims.
It will be some time before the bride actually leaves her parents' home to start a new life with her husband.
In an interview with the BBC from Bahawalpur Mr Masood's younger brother, Abdul Raoof Asghar, said it could take another four weeks before that happens.
He said that as yet a date has not been fixed.
Mr Asghar said that the marriage of his brother had been arranged by the two sets of parents, who he said were deeply religious.
The final ceremony to welcome the arrival of the bride in the husband's house, he said, would also be a simple affair because "brother Masood shuns ostentation and his idea of a wedding is the fulfilling of a religious obligation.
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