Thursday 22 January 2009

Oh Allah, help us with this test.

It’s now nearly a month since my uncle in Pakistan went missing and we are still mortified as to what might be happening to him.

Two weeks after he disappeared, the kidnappers called my family and asked for 15 million rupees (that’s 1 ½ crore in Pakistan or £150,000). Everyone went into a panic trying to arrange what they can, selling their dream and memories: the land bought to build their retirement house on, the money saved to move to a safer city, swallowing their pride to borrow from friends, and selling their jewellery (when a Pakistani women sells her wedding jewellery you know it is an absolute last resort).

A few days later they called again and agreed to accept 10 million and allowed my uncle to listen to his brother screaming in the background. Next followed calls to other relatives demanding that we hurry with payment or one of them would be next. As soon as one would get fed up and remove his SIM, another would start receiving the calls.

Another call followed agreeing to 7 million and saying if there was any hint of Police that would be the end of the matter. They instructed one of my uncle to come to Jhelum (the nearest big town to our village) with the money. He waited there all day and then returned home empty-handed. They did the same again with another town – waiting, then coming home alone.

Not wanting word to get out, my uncle and his brothers and sisters told no-one what was happening, it only became apparent to me when they started to try and arrange the money and I made my mum fess-up.

Another reason for the secrecy was that right from the beginning there has been all sorts of speculation that someone from the village or surrounding areas is involved and feeding the abductors with information. This was intensified when things only the family knew kept getting out to the rest of the village. No-one seems to be able to trust anyone else. One theory is that the nomadic shepherd’s who have started to settle in the mountains a few miles from our village were quite friendly with my missing uncle who took them their groceries from his shop. Last year he has encouraged them to take heir livestock to Karachi last year to sell to his brother there for Qurbani (it’s difficult to get good animals in the big cities at Qurbani time). They saw his home and factory and possibly came back and let their relatives know that the friendly local young shopkeeper has money behind him. I feel bad about this speculating, because these are poor people who are not liked very much as it is. Another suspect was the forest ranger who was initially taken with my uncle then dumped. The police wanted to “interrogate” him, but my uncle discouraged this fearing an innocent man might be tortured. Now the ranger has gone missing and we wonder if we were wrong to let him off so easy.

In the end, out of sheer desperation, my uncle contacted some senior police officers (no-one knows whether to trust the local police or not) who it seems have traced the phone signals to Peshawar rather than the lawless tribal areas by the Afghan border where even the police don’t go. They have headed up to Peshawar , perhaps with the intention of making a raid and I am absolutely terrified for both my missing uncle – who knows what state he is in and for my other uncle who is taking such a big risk.

Our idyllic little village in the Punjab is now full of suspicion and fear. People have taken to keeping guns and watch the main road for strangers who no longer welcome in the same way as before. I suppose innocence, once lost, cannot be regained.

Life goes on, but there is no peace. The anxiety underlies everything we do and there is no joy in anything, only guilt, worry and desperation. There are circles under my mum’s eyes and my aunt is fasting and praying and making herself ill as she sits by the phone. But Allah’s (SWT) promise still holds its power:

“Surely with every difficulty there is relief.
Surely with every difficulty there is relief.” ~ Al- Quran 94:5-6


  1. OMG sis, that is sooo terrifying and horrible - I have read so many of such incidends involving paki poliece selling the people as labeled 'taleban' and 'terrorists' to the amricans - inshaAllah that is not the case with your uncle!

    I'm so sorry for what you and your family must be going through - I can just imagine the frustration and fear.

    Ya Allah, may He provide you with the BEST outcome inshaAllah!

    Stay strong sis!

  2. Bismillah
    assalamu alaykum

    Wow! Your family will remain in our prayers. Ya Rabb. This is insanity. Oh Allah bestow upon him and the family Your Mercy. Aameen Ya Rabb

    I don't know what else to say :(( but I will pray bi'idhnillah.