Friday, 2 January 2009

Strange and Frightening Times

The last part of 2008 has been difficult, with my grans death, my husband being away and illness. So when my parents and husband returned and myself and the children felt better it felt like we were finding normalcy again.

Then the early morning phone-call. My husband always grabs this, thinking to protect me from the off-chance of bad news and also because the phone is on his side. I use to get scared it was my gran. Now I always think, anxiously, first of my mum.

It was my mum telling us she had received a call from Pakistan saying her youngest brother was abducted last night. I did a double take when I heard “abducted” – people think of these things when they think of Pakistan, these are the stereotypes alongside bombed buildings, coups and bearded fanatics. But my kind uncle? In our peaceful, prosperous, quiet little part of the country?
Our village.

The area where we are from, close to Jhelum in northern Punjab, is peaceful farmland. The highest proportion of people of Pakistani background in the UK are from the area beginning here and leading up to Mirpur and Azad Kashmir. Our little bit has always been safe from bandits and lootings that you are likely to find in other parts of the country, perhaps sheltered by the salt mountains that surround the area, perhaps just not having caught anyone’s attention.

The people have long hoped for a road through the mountains that would make their regular trips to the city of Rawalpindi easier. I suppose we should be careful what we wish for. A year ago the road was completed, with the consequence that the mountains have been made accessible to criminals and people wanting to hide there. People have found that livestock has started to go missing and unsavoury types are turning up. The long-tolerated nomadic mountain shepherds (Pallay) are also now being viewed with suspicion.
Picture taken from the new road through the mountain.

For three days Pushtun men had been visiting the village and asking people questions about my uncle (Is he such-and-such’s brother-in-law? Has he just sold his car? Does his brother have a factory in Karachi?) and people have been volunteering the information without a second though – sheer naivety or stupidity, I’m not sure. Then two nights ago, three men with scarves across their faces and Kalashnikov rifles came to his shop and took him away along with two people visiting his shop – a teenage boy and a forest ranger stationed nearby. The other two were chloroformed and left locked up in an empty shack at the foot of the mountains. No-one has heard from my uncle since. The police has been scouring the mountainside with no luck.

He has small children and a heavily pregnant wife who is frantic with worry, an elderly father who has flown back from Karachi where he was recovering from an operation and insists on dealing with the Police himself. A family and village in despair and now fearful that such a thing can happen here and to such a nice young man, highly visible as he ran his shop and part of the very fabric of village life.
Two of my Uncle's girls with Little Lady this summer

The last two nights have been terrible, thinking about whether our Uncle has eaten, if he is cold or if anyone has hurt him. I know we are all consumed by these same thoughts.

We have all been praying and pleading with Allah knowing that he is our only helper. My husband told me of a time when his dad’s car was stolen at gunpoint in Lahore and they all started praying Ayat-e-Kareema (the prayer for distress from Surah Anbiya 21:87). It wasn’t long before their dad was called by one of the thieves and told where the car had been dumped.

I believe as long as we have our faith in Allah we can stay hopeful. I am sure this is just for money, but just waiting for the demand and not knowing is so painful. My brother-in-law volunteered the information that this is the second or third such occurrence in the wider area over the last year and the perpetrators usually wait two weeks before calling with their demand, I thought it best not to pass his comments onto my mum or aunt who just cries. It’s so sad to think that this lovely place has come to the attention of terrible people and that our people aren’t safe anymore.
A humble request - please remember my family and especially my uncle in your dua's.

7 comments:

  1. inshallah you will hear good news about your uncle and may allah reunited him back with his family and give your family patience.Also nafl salat is very helpful at the time of need and distress.

    wasallam

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  2. Inshallah our family, will be reunited and peaceful. Inshallah we will have a wonderful family back together.
    2008 hasn't been very good, but now 2009! 2009, inshallah will be a lot better with the whole of the family.
    We better make more dua to reunited our Uncle.

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  3. IA I pray that your uncle will be quickly and safely returned.

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  4. May Allah SWT make it easy for your family and give you a good outcome. Unbelievable to think things like this happen!
    Salaams and duas

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  5. Alla Al must'aan gosh his is horrible , my duas are with you all please keep us posted.

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  6. Assalam-alaikam,
    thank you for your kind dua's.

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  7. May Allah return your uncle to your family in good health and soon. My prayers go out to all of you, especially his wife and young children. I hope no more distress is caused upon your family.

    A x

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