Posted: January 4, 2014 in News and Views


During my recent trip, I got a chance to meet a fellow Pakistani, who left Pakistan due to threat to his life. He is from Swat Valley, exactly from the same city where Malala Yousifzai is from. He is neighbor of Malala and has been student of Malal’s father Zia ul Din Yousifzai, who taught him  human rights. According to him, most of his work was on child rights, women rights and freedom of expression. He assisted many international journalists in covering human rights stories in Swat. He has two daughters and a wife who is a working woman also support the cause of her husband. Currently, he is in another country of Asia and in need of support. According to him, there are few organizations like Jesuits Refugee Service (JRS) and Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Networks (APRRN) which are supporting him in getting access to shelter and legal aid services.

He told me that he has to leave Swat, Pakistan because of threat to his life due to his work on rights. However, the threat source is not known yet. In response to my question that now the improved situation in Swat offers him an opportunity to return back or improvement in his own security. He said the situation in Swat is normal for general people but for him threat still exists and the level of threat is still same, means high. He remembers the day in 201 when he was attacked by the militants and God saved him.

In response to my question that how does he feel there as a refugee? “It is very difficult to live alone, away from country, family, and friends. Only I know the plight of a refugee or a person who leaves his/her home. I have met with many Sri Lankans, Pakistani, Cambodian, Palestinians and people from Myanmar, Somalia and other countries. These people have left their countries due to war, conflict and other reasons. They are with their families and children and living a very difficult lives. Thanks to NGOs like APRRN, JRS and other networks who support them. Challenges are enormous, needs are high, response is limited.” According to him, all refugees have tied their hopes with UNHCR’s decisions. They cannot go back to their countries because of challenging and threatening conditions.

He is out of his country, since last six years. He longs to meet his parents, wife, daughters (7 years A and 6 years S) and two brothers and two loving sisters but circumstances do not allow him. He is living on a hope that someday he will get a refugee status  or will return to his country if his threat will be reduced or eliminated. However, the chances of reduction or elimination of threat are minimum. When I asked him what are challenges for Pakistanis who leaves a country due to threat to his/her life because of his/her work on human rights? One unfortunate aspect, he shares is that Pakistani community is divided abroad so one channel of support to one community is not ready to assist other community or individual who belong to other community, sect etc. Second, a Pakistan, as compare to other, faces more challenges because host community is more scared of a Pakistani. NGOs and other support mechanism does not trust easily.

What is your message for others?

He said: Live in harmony, peace and unity inside country. Does not support violence and play strong role in promotion and protection of human rights. Please educate your children and do not discriminate against women. We all are Pakistanis and we all have equal rights and protections. If we are divided, we are weak and no one will respect us. I request Pakistani state to ratify Refugees Convention on 1951 and request all Pakistanis to respect, support, love those who are displaced from their countries and have sought refuge in our country. I also request other nations to support us to get out of this mess, end violence, war in Pakistan and terrorism. We are not terrorist; we ourselves are victim of terrorism. Please help us educate children, our youth,

I would also like to share with the world that we Pakistanis have been host of millions of refugees, even without ratifying refugee convention. We shared their sorrows and offered them support. We also want respect and support from other nations. 

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