KARACHI/JEDDAH: Hafizullah, the youngest of Zahir Hussain Khan’s four children, was just an infant in the winter of 2012 when the truck that his father was driving collided with a car on Makkah highway collided and killed four people.
The judge who heard the case ordered Khan to pay 1.3 million SAR, the equivalent of almost $350,000, as blood money to the families of the deceased. It was an unaffordable sum for the struggling truck driver, who had left his family behind in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar and traveled to Saudi Arabia in search of a better paying job.
Khan was sent to a Makkah prison where he languished for almost seven years until now, when the Saudi bait ul-maal paid off the bloody money he owed to the accident victims.
Hizbullah Khan, a friend of Khan’s told Arab News, “We approached the royal court for paying the blood money of Zahir Khan and got a very positive response from them.”
But the journey that led the family to the royal court was not an easy one.
When the news of Khan’s imprisonment first reached his family in Peshawar, his father died of a broken heart, Khan’s brother Hidayatullah told Arab News by telephone from Peshawar.
“We appealed to the government of Pakistan and local news channels ran the news with a call for funds... but nothing happened,” he said.
The family had lost all hope but six months ago, Hidayatullah said he heard they could get help from the Saudi bait-ul-maal.
“They don’t see the face or the nationality, they just entertain every deserving person,” he said.
“I cannot express my feelings in words,” he continued, his voice breaking with emotion. “I don’t know how to say thank you to King Salman for this generosity.”
Behind him, Khan’s mother’s voice spoke up: “We will always pray for King Salman and his long and healthy life. He made my dream come true, now I will see my son again.”
Hidayatullah said that Khan is eager to come home and see his children again, especially his youngest son who was born after he last left for Saudi Arabia.
“When my brother was in prison, he would stare at the pictures of his children in a story published by Urdu News,” Hidayatullah said.
The order for Khan’s release came two weeks ago, and the family is now anxious for next steps.
Hidayatullah says he hopes his family will have to wait no more. “We are just a few days away from a great family reunion.”
Khan’s eldest daughter, Afreen, now 11 years old, says she has been told her father has been set free. She has no memories of him from before he left, but her uncle says she and the other children get up every morning and rush outside to check if their father has arrived.
“I keep looking at the door and wait for when my father will enter,” Afreen said.