Pak Affairs

Pakistanis in Gulf concerned for their families

MANAMA: Former Bahrain residents are struggling to come to terms with life in Pakistan under the state of emergency imposed by President Pervez Musharraf. Many people have returned to Pakistan under the general amnesty available for illegal workers in Bahrain, while others had returned home by choice after spending years living in the Gulf. However, many still have relatives in Bahrain who have said they are worried for the safety of their families – who are faced with food shortages, rising prices, a deterioration of law and order and are even afraid to leave their houses.

The state of emergency will end on December 16, but some Pakistanis in Bahrain said they were hoping to bring their families here to escape the crisis.”I don’t know about the other cities, but Lahore is running low on flour, rice, meat, chicken, cooking oil, gas and many other daily items,” said one former Bahrain resident, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s very difficult to meet your needs as things are not available in the market and even if they are, the prices are too high and have even doubled.

“For example, if I want to go from one city to another, I have to pay 500 rupees (BD3) for a one-way trip instead of Rs200 (BD1.230), which is the normal rate. “It is vital that the government acts in accordance with the constitution and abides by the commitment to hold free and fair elections on schedule to end all this mess.”I am happy that Musharraf has finally been sworn in as a civilian president and he has decided to lift the state of emergency.”

Waseem Khalid, aged 29, who works in the Interior Ministry, said his family moved back to Pakistan from Bahrain four months ago.”My mother and three younger brothers returned to Pakistan as their resident permits and visas were not renewed,” said Mr Khalid.”But as my brothers were born and brought up here in Bahrain, it’s very difficult for them to cope with the current situation there.”They claim that things are very expensive compared to Bahrain and they have to visit various shops and supermarkets in search of quality goods.”

Mohammed Abdullatif, 50, said all his relatives were now back in Pakistan and he was concerned for their welfare.”My wife, who has recently moved to Pakistan with my three daughters and son, told me the current situation had changed their daily routine – they are afraid of the daily clashes between the supporters of various political parties,” he told GDN.”She told me she didn’t allow our son to go out because of the problems and it affected the daily buying of bread, vegetables, cooking oil and other necessary things.”But now that Musharraf is a civilian president, I think there will be a big change in Pakistan.”

But Mohammed Ameen, aged 35, said the country was back to square one and all hopes of a democratic system in Pakistan had been dashed.”The emergency news came as a shock as we were preparing for merry times after the general elections,” he said.”Now Musharraf is a civilian president, all the people should unite, forget their political affiliation and fight for democracy in the country, to bring everything to normal.”The prices of petrol, meat and other necessary items are skyrocketing, making the lives of the general public miserable.”Of course, no one should leave their homeland and fly to other countries just because of the problems they face in their own country, even if they wish to.”

Businessman Munir Ahmad, aged 45, said everyone was suffering under the state of emergency.”I strongly criticise the imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan,” he said. “It has seriously hurt us politically, economically and socially.”I was planning to bring my parents, wife and children to Bahrain, but when I applied, their visas were not approved because of the general amnesty.”

Badar Iftekhar, a jeweller, said emergency rule was worsening hardships being faced by people in Pakistan.”Problems faced include daily clashes between the army and the general public, which is making it difficult for the families – especially for women and children – to go out,” he said.”I sent my family to Pakistan five months ago. “Now, since the state of emergency was imposed, everything has totally changed.”Some of the shops were open till midnight, but are closing before time. “Where do people get their necessary things if required? “I hope that the end of the state of emergency will change the conditions.”

Pakistan’s state of emergency was declared on November 3 by Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup.

About the author

Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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