LAHORE, Dec 19: An American schoolteacher who wed a Pakistani this week in the city in a traditional function after a four-year internet romance, says it is the family system which inspired her to take the crucial decision of her life.

“It is really impressive to note that the family system is very much intact here in Pakistan. People within family are close to one another. They do care for one another. It is something which we lack in the States,” Duanna Marie Pettit, 30, told Dawn while sitting beside her groom, Amir Khan, 24, a computer graphic designer.

A college dropout who later opted graphic designing as a profession, Amir of Mughalpura had never thought of marrying Pettit when he began chatting her on the net. “When chatting turned into a love affair after exchange of photos and gifts, we decided to tie the knot.”

Asked what Amir had in him which made her select him as life partner, Pettit said he was very loving and caring with a big heart. Reciprocating, Amir said he was on the moon when the woman from Texas proposed him.

Their marriage was held in a traditional local style which had everything from Mehndi to Walima, with over 100 relatives and friends of the groom attending all functions. After their union, the couple approached a local court to get their wedding registered.

Their counsel, Arif Awan, said the couple would record their statements before the court on Wednesday (today). “We have taken the case to the court to get the marriage registered. It would help us remove any objection raised by immigration authorities of the two countries,” he said.

Of the Pakistani marriage function, Pettit said it was really a great fun. “I wore the traditional bridal dress. I really liked it,” she said, adding with a smile that the dress was a bit heavy to carry with. “I will really miss the colours, the drum beats and cheers, smiles and everything I got in the function.”

She was a bit hesitant when asked whether she had converted. Discussing the subject later, she said the union was purely Islamic. The lawyer said Pettit had been given the right to divorce in the marriage deed.

Pettit said she had studied Islam a lot after meeting Amir. “Islam has wonderful teachings, especially with regard to raising children and dealing with other family members.”

About her family in America, Pettit said she had not yet informed them about the marriage. “I just told them that I am going to see a friend in Pakistan.” Neverthless, she said, since her family members loved her a lot, they would accept whatever she had done.

About the possible reaction of her friends and relatives, Pettit said the wedding news might be a shock for them.

She said she was a bit apprehensive and nervous before travelling to Pakistan because she had no idea as to what would be happening around. But, she said, once she landed here, her apprehensions faded quickly. “Pakistanis are really very loving and very caring.”

Pettit maintained that she had just got another home, Pakistan. “I will rather say it is my first home now because I am married here.”

Answering a question, the couple said they were yet to decide where they would settle permanently.

Amir’s mother said her son had her consent before taking each and every step. “I am very much happy. In fact, the entire family is very happy.”

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