Pakistani man, missing in Iran for over five decades, finally reunites with family 

The still image taken from a video recorded on June 1, 2023, shows Mumtaz Khan meeting with his family after five decades in Upper Dir, Pakistan. (AN Photo)
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Updated 03 June 2023

Pakistani man, missing in Iran for over five decades, finally reunites with family 

  • Mumtaz Khan, hailing from Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, went missing in 1970s after traveling to Karachi 
  • In a video call arranged by Arab News last month, he reconnected with his family for the first time in over 50 years 

PESHAWAR: Mumtaz Khan, an elderly Pakistani man who went missing and stayed in Iran for more than five decades, reunited with his family in the northwestern Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) this week, with relatives according him an emotional welcome upon return home after ages. 

Khan left his home in the Upper Dir district and traveled to Karachi in the 1970s after being scolded by his father for not financially contributing to the household, according to his relatives. 

Khan later traveled with his friends to Iran who had convinced him to come along to earn more money, without informing his family. In a video call arranged by Arab News last month, Khan reconnected with his family for the first time in decades. 

In an interview with Arab News on Thursday, he said he got married in Iran and promised his wife he would not leave her to find his relatives in Pakistan until their children weren’t grown enough. 

“I got married to the daughter of a religious leader there. My wife told me that I would leave and desert her because I’m not the national of her country. But I promised her that I will not go back to my home country unless our children don’t get married,” 73-year-old Khan told Arab News. 

The still image taken from a video recorded on June 1, 2023, shows Mumtaz Khan meeting with his family after five decades in Upper Dir, Pakistan. (AN Photo)

“I fulfilled my promise and I’ve two daughters and two sons. One of my sons and the daughters got married and have children now. Now, I sought their permission to let me go to see my brothers and sisters, and then I will bring them here. This way, I departed for my hometown after fulfilling my promise.” 

Having moved to Iran at the age of 18, Khan started digging water wells and then switched to construction work, mostly in the port city of Chabahar. 

He said he did not try to look for his family in Pakistan earlier as his brothers would have forced him to return home and he could not go back on his word with his wife. 

“I thought my brothers would force me to come home and my wife would cry in my absence,” Khan said. 

Late last month, Khan entered Pakistan from Iran via the Pakistani border town of Nokundi in the southwestern Balochistan province. 

“When I left my home [in Iran], there was a locality called Nokundi where there were a lot of Pashtuns. I got into a car there,” he detailed. 

“They took me to a police office where they said that ‘this person is going to Pakistan for the treatment of his leg.’ They (police) simply took my photo and allowed me to go.” 

Shafiqullah Khan, a cloth merchant from Pakistan’s Balochistan who works in Iran’s Chabahar, last month shared Khan’s video on Facebook after he came to know of his story. 

Arab News made repeated attempts and was among the first media outlets to locate and speak to Khan’s brothers, and finally getting them on a video call through Chabahar-based Shafiqullah. 

Khan’s relatives said their decades-long search for him ended last month, when they saw his video on Facebook. 

Gulabuddin, Khan’s younger brother, said their entire village in Upper Dir celebrated Khan’s homecoming on May 29, with villagers and guests thronging their home in jubilation. 

“Upon the arrival of Mumtaz, we all are very happy and even there is a wave of happiness in the entire village over his homecoming,” he told Arab News. 

Khan said his village has “entirely changed,” pointing to much development and paved roads. 

“Now, it doesn’t seem to be that old hometown. When I was leaving my village, it was totally different, but now it is entirely changed and developed. Even I didn’t find the tracks and pathways we used in those old days because it has developed altogether,” he said. 

“I didn’t recognize the place, when my brothers took me to show our father’s home. In those days, our village did not have more than ten homes, but now this village has developed into a sprawling settlement.” 

Khan said he would leave for Iran after a few months and bring his children to visit his hometown. 

“After meeting all my sisters, brothers, relatives and near and dear ones, I will then leave [for Iran] after four or five months to bring back my children who will stay here for two or three months,” he added. 

Pakistan’s central bank launches ‘Diamond’ category with additional rewards for remitters

Updated 10 sec ago

Pakistan’s central bank launches ‘Diamond’ category with additional rewards for remitters

  • Remitters can avail preferential treatment at airports and embassies and get gratis passports
  • The South Asian country relies heavily on foreign remittances to keep its cash-starved economy afloat

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank launched a new ‘Diamond’ category in its remittance program for overseas Pakistanis on Friday, promising additional benefits to category holders such as preferential treatment at embassies and airports, and gratis passports.
The Sohni Dharti Remittance Program (SDRP) is a point-based loyalty scheme for remitters who work abroad and send money to their relatives in Pakistan through banking channels or exchange companies.
Remitters earn reward points based on a certain percentage of every remittance they send. The SDRP program already has three categories: Green (annual remittances of up to $10,000), Gold (annual remittances from $10,001 to $30,000) and Platinum (annual remittances of more than $30,000). The statement did not specify the amount for the Diamond category.
“Effective from September 22, 2023, a new ‘Diamond’ category has been added in the Sohni Dharti Remittance Program (SDRP),” the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in a statement.
Remitters can track their remittances and reward points through the SDRP app on their smartphones.
The SBP recalled former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s statement in which he said the Diamond category would include enhanced reward points and benefits such as arms license of non-prohibited bore, preferential treatment at Pakistan embassies/airports, and gratis passports.
It said reward points can be redeemed by the remitter and their beneficiary by availing free of cost products and services such as the payment of the Emigrant Registration fee, payment of duty for imported mobile sets and vehicles to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and the payment of renewal fee for passports.
“Moreover, benefits on redeeming reward points can also be availed on International air tickets and extra luggage charges by Pakistan International Airlines; life insurance/takaful premium payment at State Life Insurance Corporation; and purchases made at Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan,” the SBP added.
Pakistan relies heavily on remittances to keep its cash-starved economy afloat. According to official data by the SBP, the South Asian country received $27 billion in remittances during the outgoing fiscal year, FY23.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE remained the top contributors of money sent home by Pakistani workers during FY23.

Pakistan’s ‘first priority’ is countering terrorism from Afghanistan, PM says in UNGA address

Updated 22 September 2023

Pakistan’s ‘first priority’ is countering terrorism from Afghanistan, PM says in UNGA address

  • Kakar welcomes the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran while calling for a two-state solution for Palestine
  • The premier urges global powers to convince India to accept Pakistan’s offer of mutual restraint on strategic weapons

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Friday called for action against militant attacks from neighboring Afghanistan, endorsed Saudi Arabia and Iran’s diplomatic rapprochement, and advocated a two-state solution as the path to enduring peace in Palestine.

Kakar achieved a historic milestone as the first caretaker prime minister of his country to address the annual United Nations General Assembly session in New York, where he tackled various global issues, spanning from extremist violence and relations with India to the escalating challenges of climate change and Islamophobia.

“Pakistan’s first priority is to prevent and counter all terrorism from and within Afghanistan,” he told representatives of United Nations member states. “Pakistan condemns the cross-border attacks … by the TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan], Daesh and other groups operating from Afghanistan.”

The prime minister’s statement comes against the backdrop of a dramatic spike in militant attacks in Pakistan, mainly in border regions abutting Afghanistan since the return of Afghan Taliban to power in Kabul in August 2021.

The first half of this year saw about 80 percent increase in attacks compared to the last year, according to statistics compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies.

“We have sought Kabul’s support and cooperation to prevent these attacks,” the prime minister continued. “We are also taking necessary measures to end this externally encouraged terrorism.”

Prime Minister Pakistan Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar speaks during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, US, on September 22, 2023. (Photo courtesy: REUTERS)

Kakar reiterated his country’s position that peace in Afghanistan was a “strategic imperative” for Pakistan while sharing concerns of the international community with respect to Afghanistan, particularly those related to the rights of women and girls.

“We advocate continued humanitarian assistance for destitute Afghan population in which Afghan girls and women are the most vulnerable as well as the revival of Afghan economy and implementation of the connectivity projects with Central Asia,” he said.

Speaking about Pakistan’s relations with its nuclear-armed neighbor, the prime minister said his country desired “peaceful and productive” relations with all neighbors including India.

“Global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer of mutual restraint on strategic and conventional weapons,” he said, adding that Kashmir provided the key to peace between the two neighboring states.

Pakistan and India both rule parts of the disputed Himalayan region while claiming it in full. They have fought two wars over the mountainous territory and their forces regularly trade fire across a 740-kilometer (466 mile) Line of Control, which is the de facto border separating the two parts of Kashmir.

“We must counter all terrorists without discrimination including the rising threat posed by far-right extremist and fascist groups such as Hindutva inspired extremists threatening genocide against Indian Muslims and Christians alike,” he maintained.

“We also need to oppose state terrorism, address the root cause of terrorism such as poverty, injustice and foreign occupation, and distinguish genuine freedom struggles from terrorism,” he added.

The prime minister also proposed the creation of a committee of the general assembly to oversee the balanced implementation of all “four pillars of the global counter terrorism strategy.”

He also applauded the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran while commenting on the overall strategic situation in the Middle East.

“Pakistan welcomes the progress made toward ending the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, in particular we warmly welcome the normalization of relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.

Focusing on the Palestine issue, he mentioned continued “Israeli military raids, air strikes, expansion of settlements and eviction of Palestinians.”

“Durable peace can be established only through a two-state solution and establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 borders with Al-Quds as its capital,” he said.



Kakar also mentioned the “age-old phenomenon” of Islamophobia, saying it had acquired endemic proportion in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States and was manifested in the negative profiling of Muslims and public burnings of the Holy Qur’an.

“The narratives advocating a clash of civilizations have done considerable harm to humanity’s progress,” he noted. “Such ideas have bred extremism, hatred and religious intolerance, including Islamophobia.”

The prime minister welcomed the legislation initiated by Denmark and contemplated by Sweden to ban the desecration of the Islamic scripture.

“Pakistan and the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] countries will propose further steps to combat Islamophobia, including the appointment of a special envoy, creation of an Islamophobia data center, legal assistance to victims and an accountability process to punish Islamophobic crimes,” he continued.

Discussing the climate change issue, Kakar said Pakistan looked forward to fulfilling the climate commitments made at COP28 by developed countries to provide over $100 billion in annual climate finance, allocate at least half of it for adaptation in developing countries, operationalize the loss and damage fund, and reduce global carbon emission.

“Pakistan’s triple food finance fuel challenge is a prime illustration of the impact of COVID conflict and climate on developing countries,” he said, adding Pakistan was one of the worst affected countries from the adverse impacts of climate change.

Kakar said the last year’s flood in Pakistan submerged one-third of the country, killed 1,700 people, displaced over eight million people, destroyed vital infrastructure and caused over $30 billion damage to the economy.

“We are gratified by the commitment of over $10.5 billion for Pakistan’s comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction with resilience,” he said.

“Specific projects are being submitted to ensure timely funding … I hope our development partners will accord priority to the allocation of funds for our recovery plan which costs $13 billion,” he added.

Pakistani authorities arrest journalist for allegedly spreading false news about state institutions

Updated 22 September 2023

Pakistani authorities arrest journalist for allegedly spreading false news about state institutions

  • Khalid Jamil was arrested by the FIA and an Islamabad court allowed it to hold him for questioning for two days
  • The arrest has drawn condemnation from the journalist community in a country that is viewed as unsafe for reporters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani security agents have arrested a senior Islamabad-based TV anchor known for his criticism of the authorities on charges of spreading false content about state institutions on social media, his news channel and family said Friday.

Khalid Jamil was taken into custody by the Federal Investigation Agency late on Thursday, his ABN television posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Jamil’s family confirmed the arrest, saying he was detained in a late-night raid at his home in the capital, Islamabad. A photograph of Jamil circulating on social media shows him holding up a sign with his case number, apparently in police custody.

Later Friday, an Islamabad court gave the green light for the agency to hold Jamil for questioning for two days.

The arrest has drawn condemnation from the country’s journalist community. Pakistan has long been an unsafe country for reporters. In 2020, it ranked ninth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Global Impunity Index, which assesses countries where journalists are regularly harassed and killed and the assailants usually go free.

In recent years, activists and journalists have increasingly come under attack by the government and the security establishment, restricting the space for criticism and dissent. The criticism of the military can result in threats, intimidation, sedition charges and in some cases, being arrested with no warning.

Pakistan’s finance minister unveils centralized gateway portal to boost country’s debt market

Updated 22 September 2023

Pakistan’s finance minister unveils centralized gateway portal to boost country’s debt market

  • The platform will streamline investor onboarding process and enhance convenience of market intermediaries
  • The portal will be a major part of Pakistan’s financial infrastructure and will list government debt securities

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s interim finance minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar inaugurated a centralized gateway portal (CGP) on Friday, saying it would help develop debt market in the country by listing government securities to promote retail participation, transparency, savings channelization, and overall market growth.

Debt or bond markets constitute financial arenas in which people buy and sell various types of debt securities representing loans made by investors to entities such as governments, corporations, or other organizations.

These securities are typically issued with the promise of periodic interest payments to bondholders and the repayment of the principal amount at maturity.

According to a statement released by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the CGP is a novel financial initiative to facilitate simultaneous onboarding of investors and customers across the securities market, the nonbank financial companies’ sector, and the insurance industry.

The platform features standardized, one-time know-your-customer requirements across diverse asset classes.

“Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, the Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue, said that the securities market can play a vital role in the development of debt market through the listing of government debt securities on PSX [Pakistan Stock Exchange],” said the SECP statement.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, Akhtar said the issuance of securities through public auctions at PSX would facilitate greater transparency.

“One of the key issues undermining the growth of capital markets is the lack of liquidity which is directly attributable to the small number of investors,” she was quoted as saying.

The minister said the CGP would provide immense opportunities to investors and great convenience to market intermediaries by removing duplications and streamlining the customer onboarding process.

However, she noted the successful CGP launch should not be deemed the end of the project.

“Having developed this promising digital platform, we are now faced with the critical part of realizing the potential it offers,” she continued. “This requires focused marketing efforts and promotion on the part of the PSX and other stakeholders like brokers, insurance companies, and AMCs [asset management companies].”

The minister pointed out that attracting new investors in the capital market should be one of the primary objectives, adding it would require coordinated efforts from all capital market infrastructure institutions, market intermediaries and brokerage houses under the SECP guidance.

Amid cutthroat politics, PPP suspends senior leader for joining ex-PM Khan’s legal team before elections

Updated 22 September 2023

Amid cutthroat politics, PPP suspends senior leader for joining ex-PM Khan’s legal team before elections

  • Sardar Latif Khosa was asked to explain his position after he started representing Khan without seeking party’s approval
  • Khosa criticized the state for charging the ex-premier for violating Official Secrets Act at a recent lawyers’ convention

ISLAMABAD: In yet another sign of cutthroat politics ahead of national elections slated for January, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) suspended the membership of one of its senior leaders on Friday for joining former prime minister Imran Khan’s legal team to defend him in multiple cases filed against him.

Sardar Latif Khosa, a lawyer and member of the PPP central executive committee, was issued a show-cause notice last week wherein he was asked to explain the reason behind his decision for “defending the leader of another party” without the approval of the leadership of his own political faction.

The former prime minister has been in a high-security prison after he was arrested in a graft case last month in which a local court sent him to jail for three years. While his initial sentence was suspended by the higher judiciary within weeks, his judicial remand was extended in a more serious matter involving the misuse of a confidential diplomatic cable which was deemed as a violation of the Official Secrets Act.

“The Secretary-General of the PPP, Syed Nair Hussain Bukhari, has suspended the membership of Sardar Latif Khosa,” the party said in a statement on Friday. “Khosa’s membership to the party’s central executive committee has also been revoked.”

It added the decision was taken after Khosa failed to respond to the show-cause notice served to him.

The notice highlighted Khosa’s speech at a lawyers’ convention in which he criticized the state policy regarding the case related to the secret diplomatic dispatch.

“You are hereby through this show cause notice asked to explain why disciplinary action not be taken against you for working against the party policy,” he was asked.

Pakistan’s election regulator has barred Khan from contesting elections for five years due to his conviction in the corruption case.

The prolonged restriction has provided an opportunity to other parties in the country to build momentum as national polls in January draw closer.