Mehrab Afridi and Abid Iqbal
PESHAWAR: The coronavirus pandemic has multiple impacts on human lives. The deadly virus has not only claimed thousands of lives across the globe, it has also negatively affected the global economy. The pandemic has caused a global recession as many countries enforced a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the deadly virus. These stringent moves by the governments brought large scale unemployment as thousands of businesses ceased to operate during the lockdown.
The Pakistani diaspora living in different countries particularly the laborers are not any exception. The prolonged lockdowns, which rendered majority of them jobless, coupled with travel restrictions have not only multiplied their agonies but also affected their families back home, which are mostly dependent on their hard-earned moneys.
Naghma’s brother, Rahamdil Khan, is one of the many overseas Pakistanis, who lost his job during the lockdown. Khan, a resident of the provincial metropolis Peshawar, had gone abroad to earn livelihood for his family. The remittances sent by him were the only income Naghma and her parents receive to meet their expenses. However, it has become difficult for them to make their both ends meet after Khan has been rendered jobless.
“My father is old and fragile and physically not fit to do any job whereas my brother is also jobless. I appeal to the government to extend financial support to our family to mitigate our sufferings, otherwise the school going children of our family may not continue their education,” Naghma appeals.
She also urges the government to immediate measures to lessen the miseries of overseas Pakistanis.
Wasim Afridi, who hails from the Landi Kotal tehsil of the district Khyber, managed to reach Germany despite all odds but to his bad luck, he couldn’t find a suitable job to support his family back home and clear the debt his family had borrowed for his travelling. He hardly spent a year and returned home without earning any remittances.
Similarly, another tribesman from the North Waziristan tribal district, Ahya Jan has started selling vegetables after losing his job in Dubai. Jan was a driver in a Dubai’s company and was earning enough wages to manage his family expenses. He returned home after spending more than three years in the gulf state but to his bad luck, a lockdown was imposed and he couldn’t return in time, consequently, his visa got expired due to overstaying.
“Soon after my return to Pakistan, the coronavirus pandemic spread. The flight operation between Pakistan and Dubai was also halted. I spent more than six months in Pakistan and went from pillar to post to secure entry into Dubai but couldn’t return and hence, my visa got expired,” Jan says while sharing his ordeal with TNN.
He says that he also contacted his company’s manager and other colleagues but nobody helped him out. Since he had lost his job, he had no money to support the family, ultimately, he started selling vegetables.
Jan’s miseries continue to follow him. He didn’t find a suitable shop where he could start a proper business. He has now set up a makeshift stall in the market.
Ahya Jan’s income also shrank as he was getting a reasonable salary while in Dubai. He had admitted his children in a reputable private school in Peshawar dreaming of a good future for them. But unwillingly, he has to discontinue his children’s schooling due to his meager resources.