Whereabouts of Pakistani missing during Hajj still mystery

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Islamabad: The whereabouts of Mr. Abdul Ghafoor khan, a Pashto-speaking octogenarian from Charsadda, KP, lost in Madinah on the second day of his arrival for pilgrimage purposes, is still a mystery despite lapse of more than two months. The ineptitude of Ministry of Religious affairs have further aggravated the problem which is lingering on for months. Mr. Imdad Ullah Khyal said, “Despite being conversant with case of my father, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Hajj Directorate Jeddah and Federal Minister for Religious affairs, did not bother to pick up my repeated telephonic calls for getting updates about the progress done so far”. Notwithstanding the above, Mr. Imdad Ullah Khyal wrote numerous letters and emails to President of Pakistan, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Army Chief and DG ISI for solving the matter but to no avail.          Mr. Imdad Ullah Khyal, Son of the missing Haji, in sheer disappointment and being fed up with the lethargic and cold attitude of Ministry of religious affairs and other relevant quarters, appealed to Saudi Government for help to locate his father. He got a positive response on 20-10-2016 from Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Abdullah Marzuq Al Zehrani for recovery of his father. Mr. Imdad Ullah Khyal told “The Saudi Ambassador asked me to provide him with the correspondence taken place between Ministry of Religious Affairs Islamabad and Saudi Government. He claimed that he wrote to Ministry of Religious for the said copies of correspondence but to my utter dismay they did not cooperate with me on the issue.”

However, Ministry of Religious Affairs asserted that Federal Minister of religious affairs Mr. Sardar Muhammad Yousuf and Minister of State for religious, Mr. Peer Ameen Hasanat is in constant contact with Saudi authorities regarding this matter. They further asserted that a team under the leadership of DG Hajj is working on the matter. But it is a matter of great concern that no progress has so far been made in this respect after the lapse of more than 63 days by the concerned Ministry which is a failure on the part of their employees. “We are searching for your father” is the only parrot-fashion response we get from the ministry officials. Mr. Imdad Ullah Khyal flabbergasted with response said “What kind of search is it? that despite lapse of 63 days they couldn’t found my father with all the resources at their disposal! It is incomprehensible!”. In short, despite the lapse of more than two months, Neither the Ministry of Religious Affairs identified the circumstances encompassing the mysterious disappearance of our father nor they evidenced any minute progress in this case.

The dejected son said that the subsequent failure of Religious Ministry Islamabad in tracing our father, after a period of more than two months, in spite of employing “the best of their efforts” is inexcusable. It is either indicative of their sheer incompetence or connivance with the police in holding the Haji in illegal Confinement. This claim is substantiated by the reluctance of Pakistan House to provide us with an official undertaking that “Mr. Abdul Ghafoor Khan is not in the custody of police”.

Mr. Imdad Ullah Khyal claimed that we also learned from different sources that my father is in the illegal custody of Saudi Intelligence agency due to some alleged altercation with police in Masjid-e-Nabvi. The aforementioned claim is also endorsed by the group members of the missing Haji. He said that we have time and again requested the Deputy Director Office of the Pilgrims Affairs Pakistan (OPAP) Mr. Saif Anwar Jappa to provide us with an official undertaking that our father is not in the custody of Saudi agencies but he failed to do so. He told that every country has its own laws and we cannot disclose you the whereabouts of your father which is a crystal clear example of human rights violation.  Mr. Imdad Ullah asked “Is my father a terrorist? Or a smuggler? That he is kept in illegal confinement till date. Pakistan has always stood by Saudi Arabia, but such unethical and inhuman treatment meted out to Pakistanis by Saudi authorities will only sow seeds of hatred in our hearts.

Mr. Imdad Ullah further told that the fellow group members have returned to the country on 1st October 2016, after performing Hajj, yet we yearn for the slightest clue of Mr. Abdul Ghafoor whereabouts. We are deeply saddened by the apathetic attitude of the designated officers and unresponsiveness of numerous doors we have knocked. No one is willing to undertake this matter of grave human rights violation in Saudi Arabia because of the fear of facing harsh repercussion for raising voice against the “Holiness”. What religion, however, teaches its followers to back oppressors or to silently bear the injustice? At least, Islamic teachings greatly emphasize the honest discharge of entrusted duties and swift response to the plea of those in need.

He further stressed that “Whatever the case maybe, I want my father back home at earliest”. He also appealed to the Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan to take SUO-MOTO notice of the matter for the early recovery of his father and requested the power circles, through this honorable platform, for the safe return of Mr. Abdul Ghafoor Khan to his own homeland