July 1, 2020
By Abdul Baseer
At least 128 bodies of Pakistanis have been transported from Saudi Arabia since the pandemic while at least 119 remained to be lifted from various countries.
Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that 56,846 people and 479 bodies Pakistani nationals have been repatriated from 60 countries in the last four months, while addressing the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Most of the bodies of Pakistani nationals arriving from the Arab countries are labourers from the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Workers of Rescue 1122 and volunteers of a welfare organisation, Al-Khidmat Foundation are transporting bodies at the doorsteps of their families after receiving them from the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar.
The body of Mashood Khan was recently transported from Saudia Arabia’s city Riyyadh to Malakand, KP in Pakistan. His nephew, Muhammad Abid Khan told Voicepk.net that his uncle’s body was left in a car for hours due to shortage of space in the morgue.
“Maybe the issues we faced were not too hard to deal with, but we were transporting the body of my late uncle and every little problem while travelling with a body of your loved one becomes a big deal,” added Khan.
President of Al-Khidmat Foundation KP, Khalid Waqas said that their organisation has shifted at least 21 bodies to far flung areas of KP in the last week.
“We had already announced that we will transport the bodies of overseas Pakistanis to their loved ones so our volunteers provided free ambulance services to the families of the deceased right inside their respective hometowns including Dir, Chitral, Swat, Waziristan
or Bannu” said Waqas.
According to the spokesperson Rescue 1122 Peshawar, Bilal Faizi, Rescue 1122 Peshawar have transported at least 10 bodies of those who have died to their hometowns from the airport in the provincial capital.
“We will now be providing free ambulance services to transport bodies to their loved ones no matter how far they live,” shared Faizi.
An elected member of the KP assembly from Upper Dir III (PK-12), Inayatullah Khan of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) believes that the government needs to show more cooperation to bring back the bodies of the deceased citizens.
He said that the number of Pakistani nationals who lost their lives due to COVID-19 overseas has so drastically increased that only 46 bodies belonging to Upper and Lower Dir are yet to be brought back.
“Despite completion of required documentations to transport the bodies of these 46 residents of Dir, their families still await to receive them only due to unavailability of the flights” added the lawmaker.
Although the government has brought back the 479 bodies of overseas Pakistanis since the pandemic but the opposition parties and the families of those who are yet to receive the bodies of their deceased family members have been complaining about the lack of support from the relevant institutions and the PTI government since months.