KARACHI: Mohammad Ashfaq left his home in September 2013 and is now desperately waiting for the Federal Investigation Agency’s nod at its anti human trafficking wing’s office in Karachi to take the first available flight to reach Mardan his hometown.
When the 23 year old left home for Iran he was excited and pumped to begin new life hoping that lady luck would smile on him. Things did not go the desired way as after more than three years, he is more desperate to return home among his loved ones. Ashfaq has paid a huge price for this desperation and change of mind.
For that new thought Ashfaq alleges that he was subjected to torture, including being beaten on the soles of his feet with rubber flex, exposed to tear gas and immersed upside down in water tanks.
If it was not enough for 27 consecutive days kicking, hanging upside down, burning with live cigarettes, hot knives and iron rods, needles’ insertion into nails, confinement in dark room, exposure to extreme cold were the other ways to learn that there is no place like home and he was wrong to choose this path of career.
Ashfaq landed on Karachi airport on Saturday morning with Fazal Ameen after being rescued and released by the Turkish police in a raid on a house on the outskirts of Istanbul more than a week ago where the two along with four other Pakistani youngsters were held hostage for almost a month.
All six four from Punjab’s Gujranwala and two from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Mardan were “kidnapped” by a group of Afghan human traffickers, who tortured them brutally and sent videos of their ordeal to their families on WhatsApp. The kidnappers demanded five million rupees as ransom from Ashfaq’s family for his release.
“I had been living there Istanbul illegally since 2013,” Ashfaq told Dawn. “I used to work at a local restaurant. There I met Fazal Ameen and we became good friends as he is also from the same area in Pakistan. We came into contact with an Afghan man named Raheem. He became a good friend of us. We spent more than two years working and living together. But we didn’t know that he is a monster.”
After having known each and every fact about the two Mardan boys, Raheem executed his plan and kidnapped both of them. They were moved to a house in Istanbul’s outskirts. Already terrified and uncertain about their fate, Ashfaq and Fazal were further shocked to know that the place was already hosting four more Pakistani hostages Adil Ahmad, Mohammad Zeeshan, Abid and Usman Ali who were trapped by Raheem and his gang while planning to enter Europe illegally through local agents.
“We were held for 27 days,” said Ashfaq. “And during these days we were daily tortured and kept hungry for five days. Every sixth day we were given a piece of bread and water. During torture they kept filming and sending it to our families for ransom. I don’t know how that one of the videos leaked and reached social media which led to our freedom.”
The authorities intervened after the reports of their kidnapping went viral on social media and mainstream media brought the ordeal of their families on record. The Foreign Office contacted the Turkish authorities who traced the victims, raided the place and arrested nine suspects.
Ashfaq was not sure but expressed his strong doubts that gangs like the one being operated by Raheem were quite common in parts of the world where the Pakistanis were mainly being targeted for their desperation to live in Europe.
“They know that Pakistanis have to enter Europe one way or the other and they can’t go to the local authorities because they are living there illegally. So they mainly target Pakistanis and extort money from their families through such blackmailing,” he said.
Courtesy : Dawn News