Lured by tall tales into a world of hardships

DUBAI — For most of the illegal Pakistanis who are now making the most of the amnesty offered by the UAE government, entry into the country has not been an easy task.



by

Asma Ali Zain

Published: Wed 25 Jul 2007, 8:26 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:19 AM

Many of them endured hardships to make it to the “City of Gold”, as Dubai is popularly known to them. Khaleej Times spoke to some of them in the Pakistan Association Centre premises yesterday.

“We were bundled in overloaded trucks and travelled all over Pakistan to reach the seaport city of Karachi from where we took the road to Iran and then schemed an entry into the emirates,” they revealed.

Most of the illegals Khaleej Times spoke to, had similar tales to tell — they were lured by tall tales narrated by unscrupulous ‘agents’ who promised to make their passage to the UAE easier if they promised to part with a little of their hard earned cash.

Shown grand dreams of a distant land that would help make them rich almost overnight, most of the young men said they were all too willing to leave their country and families behind, expecting a smooth ride and life ahead.

Several said they were not even aware that -though they were paying thousands of rupees- they had to follow legal procedures such as acquiring a valid passport with a valid visa before entering any foreign domain. With mixed feelings, 30-year-old Mohammad Buksh from Larkana in Sindh parts with information reluctantly. “I paid Pakistani Rs15,000 to travel to Oman. From there, I walked all the way to the UAE border. I have been here in the UAE for two years now. Please help me. I want to go back to my country. I have little children who need me,” Buksh said.

Said Fariduddin, another illegal: “We were verbally told that we had reached Oman and we had to use the ‘launch’ (boat) to cross into the UAE.”

However, procedures for getting an outpass are complicated for Wali Khan, a pathan from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan because he does not carry an original National Identity Card (NIC). Therefore, he will have to prove to the consulate officials that he is a Pakistani citizen. A tailor by profession, he is now all too willing to go back home. “I made a big mistake by coming here. I really want to go back,” he pleaded like the rest of them.

Inayat-ur-Rehman, joint secretary of Pakistan Association, explained: “Most of these people are illiterate, belonging to the lower strata of the Pakistani society who are told that Dubai will offer them great money. They are unaware of the correct way to enter the country. Hence most of them end up in jails or are on the run.”

“During the last period of amnesty offered by the UAE government, the Pakistan Association had provided free tickets to several people. But this year, we are unable to do so due to paucity of funds,” added Rehman.

Besides amnesty, the association deals with up to 18-20 cases (weekly) of Pakistanis in jails and helps them travel back home by providing the necessary support, including finances, if the need be, said Rehman.

However, during the amnesty rush, the association has limited its work and is now offering support services to the Pakistan Consulate in the centre’s premises. “This time the Pakistani airlines, too, are not offering discounts. So we could give free tickets to a handful needy only,” he said, adding that the association was providing free food to at least 400 people who came for outpasses.


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