Balochistan’s snowstorm hero says mother trained him to help others

Suleman Khan, a resident of a small town in Balochistan, can be seen with his vehicle at the Quetta-Zhob highway on January 15, 2020. Khan saved more than 100 people who were trapped in a recent snowstorm in Pakistan's southwest. (Social Media)
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Updated 18 January 2020

Balochistan’s snowstorm hero says mother trained him to help others

  • Suleman Khan, a resident of Kuchlak near Quetta, rescued over 100 people stranded in bad weather
  • Khan dropped out of school in fifth grade due to poverty

KARACHI: A 31-year-old resident of Balochistan, who rescued more than 100 people trapped in a snowstorm in Pakistan’s southwest, says his mother always taught him “to help others during their time of need.”

Suleman Khan got a chance to live up to that expectation three days ago when heavy snowfall blocked the Quetta-Zhob highway. Hundreds of commuters were stranded due to harsh weather, many of them with women, children and elderly relatives.
Khan not only rescued these people – providing them fuel and mechanical support – but also took them to his residence to offer food and shelter.

Habib Ullah, one of the many commuters saved by Khan who spoke to a local news channel, said that Khan helped more than 100 people.

“During my childhood, my mother advised us to help others. As I started helping people in the snowstorm, I called her and said I would not return home on time. She prayed for me and wished me good luck,” he told Arab News from Quetta on phone.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal presents a shield to Suleman Khan on January 17, 2020, acknowledging his efforts to rescue people during the worst snowfall in Pakistan's southwestern province in many years. (CM House, Quetta)

Khan was invited by Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan who presented him a shield for his heroism and bravery.

“I did what I did to please God,” he added. “I didn’t want to be seen on social media websites. At some point, however, someone shot videos and shared them with others.”

Khan said he was praised by many, hoping that his good deed would also motivate others to help people around them.

“I was busy rescuing others when someone filmed me and made me famous like the Chai Wala,” he smiled while referring to a worker at an Islamabad tea shop who shot to fame after a photographer shared his picture on her social media accounts.

Khan left school while he was still in the fifth grade. This was due to abysmal poverty, though he made a good fortune for himself by working hard and has a mine of chromite mineral along the Quetta-Zhob highway.

He said he went to rescue his workers but noticed a woman who was expecting and needed help.

“Some people suspected they would die in the snowstorm,” Khan recalled. “There was a lot of breeze and it was clear that aerial help would take time to reach the place. That’s when I called my mother, took her blessings and returned to help others.”

He added that he continued rescuing people until about 8pm.

Khan also made a video after the incident, urging young people in Kuchlak, his hometown, to help people who are caught in such catastrophic situations.

“As more snowfall is predicted in the coming days, people will need help … We need to maintain good communication so we manage to deliver food to people who run out of rations,” he said.

“It is not just the government’s responsibility: We are also required to help those who need us. This is what we have been told since childhood,” Khan continued.

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

Updated 23 January 2021

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

  • South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players
  • The South African player beleives Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi can pose problems for his team

ISLAMABAD: South African cricketer Faf du Plessis believes spending months in a bio-secure bubble could soon become a major challenge for players.

“We understand that this is a very tough season and a tough challenge for a lot of people out there, but if it’s back-to-back-to-back bubble life, things would become a big challenge,” du Plessis said during a virtual news conference on Saturday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, cricketers have to adhere to strict procedures for an international series. In countries like Pakistan, international games are being played in empty stadiums and players' movement confined to just their hotel and stadiums.

Du Plessis is one of those South African cricketers, along with captain Quinton de Kock, to have experienced life in a bubble over the last few months. He played in the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates and home series against Sri Lanka. Now he has a two-test series in Pakistan, starting Tuesday in Karachi, followed by the second test at Rawalpindi.

“The main priority is to play cricket, to be out there doing what we love instead of being at home … so I think that still remains the most important thing. But I think there would definitely come a point where players would struggle with this (bubble)," du Plessis said.

“If you look at a calendar of the last eight months, you’re looking at about four or five months in a bubble, which is a lot. For some of us (being) without family, it can get challenging. Right now, I’m still in a good place. I’m still feeling really motivated and driven, but I can only speak for myself.

“I don’t think it’s possible to continue from bubble to bubble to bubble, I’ve seen and heard a lot of players talk about it. I don’t think it’s sustainable.”

The South African team practiced at the National Stadium -- the venue for the test opener -- for the first time on Saturday. Before that, the visitors had been practicing at a stadium close to the team hotel for the last four days where they played intra-squad matches.

“For now, (I'm) enjoying the four walls of my room and then the pitch outside where we can get to do what we love,” du Plessis said.

The 36-year-old du Plessis, who has appeared in 67 test matches for South Africa with a batting average topping 40, will be playing his first test in Pakistan since making his debut against Australia in 2012. Pakistan last hosted South Africa in 2007. In 2009 international cricket’s doors were shut on Pakistan after an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus at Lahore.

Du Plessis has played seven test matches against Pakistan that included two in the UAE and five in South Africa.

Du Plessis is South Africa’s most experienced player touring Pakistan, but wasn’t sure what type of wickets will be prepared for the two tests.

“I think that’s possibly the biggest thing that we are unsure about,” he said.

“As a team we try to prepare for everything and anything, overprepare, spin conditions, reverse swinging ball … if I have to call it, I probably said I think that wickets will be a bit more subcontinent like than it used to be back then (in 2007), so spinners would probably be more a little bit more in the game.”

Du Plessis has picked fit-again Pakistan all-format captain Babar Azam and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as the two players who could pose problems for the tourists. Babar has regained fitness from a fractured thumb — in his absence Pakistan lost both the Twenty20 and test series in New Zealand.

“Obviously, having Babar back is massive for them,” du Plessis said.

“Afridi has been getting a lot of wickets, so probably someone like him would be pretty dangerous.”