24 Nov 17/Friday.

Hope is fading and only uncertainty remains as the wives of dozens of abducted coal miners desperately wait for them to return home. Six years ago on Sept 9, 2011, 40 workers were abducted by unknown armed men, while working on their routine night shift in a coal mine of the Kala Khel area in Khyber Agency. 32 of those men were from Shangla district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Over the next three months, 16 escaped from their captors while whereabouts of 16 others remain unknown. Time has moved on but life for families of these men have stood still. Their wives continue to wait for them neither wives nor widows.

Men from Hussan’s family, belonging to the Basia area of Ranyal union council went missing in the incident. Hussan Baha, 24, one of the wives, married at a tender age of 15, says she can’t help but keep looking out for her husband in the hope that she might see him walk home. She relents, “I see the same path that my husband left six years ago. But I only end up getting back to work. My life has become miserable since then.” Today, no one is left to feed the family. The family has five other men missing, Sardar Hussain, Imam Hussain, Zahir Rehman, Sardar Rehman and her husband, Umar Rehman.

After their abduction, the families were informed a week later. With breadwinners gone only neighbours are helping them with food and cash as charity. Asked about any compensation paid by the government, she says she has no idea. It seems the payment was so meagre that it had already been used up.

The other missing miners include Muhammad Azam of Shalmanu Pir Abad, Umar Muhammad of Kandaw Pagorai, Sajid Gul and Dostam Gul, brothers from Pir Abad, Bakht Shahzada of Pir Abad, Dil Muhammad of Shen Sar, Umar Zada of Pagorai, Saeed Aslam and Aman Khan, brothers from Bnar Dehrai, Qabil Muhammad of Larai and Sher Baaz Khan of Damorai. The fate of their families too linger in misery. Neglected by government and absence of their families is leading them into misery further. All the families have old parents and children. They have sold their land and valuable processions and are left with nothing to sustain them. 

This raises serious questions in my mind.

How can a government be so helpless to its own citizens? In Pakistan are there no rights for its citizens? If Pakistan such a poor country that they cannot fund their poor and helpless, then how are those politicians stashing money around the world? Who is going to help these helpless families?

A majority of Shangla residents live in remote, hilly areas and the women do not leave their houses. Only a few of the rural women work in the fields. Because of this culture, the wives of the abducted coal miners have to resort to taking aid from their neighbours to keep their kitchens running.

They could wait forever for their husbands, they say, even if they face social problems. But the misery seems to be so intense that life cannot go on. Their only hope is that the government comes forward to trace the missing men. The government has been promising so much of this CPEC project, where is the prosperity to these far-flung people who are our own Muslims and their families?

Is this the reason why these people have taken up arms?

Can the government be not merciful towards these pitiful women?


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