Umar Bacha

PESHAWAR: The wife of a prisoner Muhammad Riaz had sold her Jewelry to buy a visa for him as he wished to go abroad and make ends meet due to poverty in Pakistan, but he got arrested at Oman Airport when he arrived there and had been jailed in the Muscat prison for the last eight years.

Oman is one of the countries where over 231,685 Pakistanis work in the different fields and according to the Oman Embassy in Pakistan, 302 Pakistanis from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Balochistan are jailed in the Sumail and Razaq prisons.

Tafseer, a prisoner, told through an audio note from Sumail prison that he and hundreds of other Pakistanis are jailed there for several years, some are sentenced for life, 25 years, or more, but 60 percent are innocent.

He said that inmates of KP belong to Shangla, Peshawar, Swat, Malakand, Mardan, Charsadda, Mohmand and Bajaur, and also Punjab and Balochistan.

“We sell our bread in jail to buy cards for calling our loved ones in Pakistan, our families are also suffering in home and government does not inquire about us. We are Pakistanis and anticipating from the incumbent government and Prime Minister Imran Khan to come to our rescue,” he said.

Sadam Hussain, another prisoner, said he was arrested from his accommodation along with roommates, one of them was accused, but the Oman police arrested all of them.

He said that in Oman law appeal can be submitted for 40 days. He said innocent people are also declared accused if no appeal is filed and it was the reason he was spending his days in jail instead of the labor.

He said when they fall ill, the prison administration does not take them to the hospital for treatment and even inmates die in the jail, but no one makes the prison administration accountable.

Bushra Bibi, the wife of Muhammad Riaz from Malakand, told that due to financial problems in the village, her husband sold her jewelry for Rs70,000 in December 2012, bought a visa, while his brother sent him a ticket and he left for Muscat but when he arrived there he was arrested at the airport.

“He told me via phone that someone in Islamabad had given him an envelope and asked that he has to give it to a person in Muscat, but he was arrested when he arrived at Muscat Airport. Since then we are in deep distress,” she said.

Bushra Bibi said that she had talked to Muhammad Riaz three days ago and he was inquiring about children and asking to talk with politicians to repatriate him from the jail because her both children daily asked about their father.

Muhammad Riaz’s mother, Parveen Fatima, said her husband had died soon after her son’s arrest and now she was also ill and their financial condition was worst. She said that she wanted to see her son in her life for which she appealed to the government of Pakistan to repatriate her son as soon as possible. She said even her son may be jailed in Pakistan, but at least he must be brought back.

Zahid Hafeez, a spokesperson at Oman Embassy, when contacted, told this scribe that there were 516 inmates in the Sumail and Razaq prisons before December 31, 2019, and the current government had repatriated 214 prisoners under the Royal pardon.

He said, their officials in Oman visit the prisons twice in a month and facilitate inmates. However, he said, the government was making efforts to repatriate more prisoners.

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