’I keep looking at the door’: 11-year-old Afreen awaits her father after Saudi pays blood money

Pakistani trucker Zahir Hussain Khan with his children in his home in Pakistan. Khan was sentenced by a Saudi court after four people died in a road accident in Saudi Arabia. He is now to walk free after Saudi bait ul-maal paid off his blood money. (Courtesy: Zahir Hussain Khan’s family)
Updated 24 July 2019

’I keep looking at the door’: 11-year-old Afreen awaits her father after Saudi pays blood money

  • Pakistani trucker Zahir Khan was asked to pay 1.3 million SAR after four people were killed in a road accident in 2012
  • Khan will walk free after seven years as Saudi authorities pay off his blood money

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.


Pakistan says Afghan president’s comments on Pashteen’s arrest 'unwarranted'

Updated 28 January 2020

Pakistan says Afghan president’s comments on Pashteen’s arrest 'unwarranted'

  • Ghani said he was ‘troubled’ by the arrest
  • Ghani’s tweets ‘are a clear interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs’ – FO

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has condemned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s statement on the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).
“We have noted with serious concern the recent tweets by President Ashraf Ghani, which are a clear interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and hence, unwarranted,” the Foreign Office said in a statement, adding that Pakistan wishes to maintain close relations with Afghanistan “based on the principles of non-intervention and non-interference.”
The words came after Ghani’s Twitter post on Monday, in which he expressed his worry over the PTM leader’s detention.
“I am troubled by the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen and his colleagues. I fully echo the concerns raised by Amnesty International in this regard and hope for their immediate release,” Ghani said, adding that while the region is suffering due to violent extremism, “must support and encourage peaceful civilian movements for justice and must avoid any means of force and violence against these movements.”

PTM is a movement that says it advocates Pashtun rights in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, which have significant Pashtun populations. The Pashtuns are also the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan.
Following Pashteen’s arrest by police in Peshawar on Monday, the PTM called for a countrywide protest, while lawmakers from tribal areas requested his release.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Mohsin Dawar, a National Assembly (MNA) member from North Waziristan tribal district, said that Pashteen had been “abducted by police.”

In this undated file photo, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) central leader Manzoor Pashteen addresses a crowd in Peshawar. (Photo courtesy: PTM)

Another lawmaker, Ali Wazir from South Waziristan tribal district, said that police did not provide information why Pashteen was detained.
“A day earlier, Defense Minister Pervez Khattak has approached us for negotiations to resolve our problems, but the arrest of our central leader soon after Khattak’s talks offer is a big question mark. We will offer stout resistance if Pashteen is not released soon,” Wazir said.