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Aashique Ali (left) with his friend Zafar Ali.
Aashique Ali (left) with his friend Zafar Ali.
For one decade, Aashique and Zafar have been offering bike rides to men who could not afford rickshaw fares.
For one decade, Aashique and Zafar have been offering bike rides to men who could not afford rickshaw fares.

Late into the night, as traffic begins to disappear on the roads of Hyderabad, the streets are all but abandoned. Only a few stone-loaded trucks are seen chugging along; and the occasional car, land cruiser or bike whizzing past at such a speed that one cannot even see them easily.

At this hour of darkness, when a number of Hyderabad's citizens are desperately looking to hitch a ride from one spot to another, there are two people who offer to do just that ... for free.

Aashique Ali lives in the village of Allahdad Chand, Paka Qilla, Hyderabad. For a living, he repairs motorbikes at his shop in Khokhar Muhalla. After closing shop, he takes up a second job, one that yields no profit except what he earns in solace and peace of mind.

Everyday, Aashique and his friend, Zafar Ali, rev up Aashique's motorbike to offer free transport to those who who cannot rent a rickshaw.

Aashique stands at Giddu chock, a spot where roads go out to different parts of the city: Kotri, Qasimabad, Latifabad, Hussainabad, etc. He picks and drops people wherever they want to go.

“I work at shop to make a living, but that’s not what I came for in this world,” he said. “Doing what I do for these people makes me feel that I’m also useful in this world, and my life is not of no avail. It makes me happy.”

The free rides begin after 11pm, and end at 2am. But in Ramazan, they go on till Sehri. There are now 20 to 25 people whom Aashique and Zafar pick from different places and drop at their homes on a regular basis.

'Zindagi Gulzar Hai'

Aashique's friend Zafar Ali is blind, not by birth but since childhood. At the age of four, he fell from the stairs and critically injured. His parents were uneducated and decided to cure him at home instead of taking him to the hospital. The mistake wreaked havoc on his life. His eyesight began to wane slowly, and within six more years, he was completely blind.

That was the point Zafar left school, in grade five. After that, he and his friend Aashique Ali, too, stopped his studies.

Zafar Ali is now married and the father of two sons. He previously thought he was living an aimless life because he could do nothing but sit at home all the time, but when he joined his friend’s company he found new meaning to the life.

“I have found a way to give meaning to a life which was useless. Despite my handicap, I’m able to lend a helping hand to the helpless. I have escaped attacks, including one where a bullet scraped my finger. But I’m dedicated to the work. It makes me happy,” he says.

Zafar and Aashique were born in the same week, lived in the same neighbourhood, played and studied together, and are now doing social work together which they want to continue as long as they keep having the strength to do so.

Since Zafar can’t work, Aashique Ali buys used motorbikes for him, and helps him repair and sell them, so that his friend has a livelihood.

“I don’t want to leave him alone,” said Aashique Ali. “He can’t live without me, neither can I without him.”

Rs250 every day for 10 years in a row

Every morning, Aashique Ali puts aside Rs250 for his night rides. The money is enough to run his bike for three to four hours continuously.

Where did the idea for this service come to him?

“Some ten years ago, in 2005, we were returning to home from Kotri’s Baba Salahuddin shrine late at night. On the way, we met a lonely young boy who requested for a ride to Hyderabad. When we dropped him off at his home, he wept and prayed for us. On that day, we decided to start this service, and be it rain or cold, we haven’t missed a single day, except Saheed Benazir’s assassination incident, when the police did not allow us to work for 15 days.”

Aashique Ali said that they did not have a car, or they would even pick up people from the more remote areas of the city.

In a city like Hyderabad, where every bike owner has his own tale of mugging, how were these two surviving, I asked.

“We have been attacked by muggers several times, including the time a bullet grazed Zafar's finger,” says Aashique. “No doubt its dangerous. Initially, the policemen also disturbed us; they would inquire about us from everyone we dropped off. But now we know the policemen and they know us.”

Aashique said that at first, people would laugh at the two; relatives called them crazy and parents advised them against it. But they kept it up, and now they are known for their work. Their phone numbers are spread all across the city and people can ring them up from anywhere in the city at any time to set up a ride.

In these ten years, they have used the same bike, whereas some 15 other people whom they once lifted from one place to another, had now bought their own motorbikes.

“In a society where no one cares about others, offering such a service looks very odd; which is why, in the initial days people would shy away from us,” says Aashique.

“We asked people where they want to go, so that we may offer them lift. Many of them grew suspicious and tried to avoid us. To solve that problem, we put a tape recorder on the bike and would play na'ats, which made them trust us more.”

But for most people who meet these two Good Samaritans for the first time, they are still too good to be true.

—All photos by author


Author Image

The writer is a Hyderabad-based Sindhi journalist.


The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (61) Closed



Jami Khan Aug 24, 2015 06:03pm

Excellent coverage for an Incredible dedication and personal sacrifice. Well done boys, you're a true inspiration for rest of us.

asim Aug 24, 2015 06:07pm

Ordinary people become heroes through extraordinary and selfless actions to help their neighbors.....bravo Aashique Ali!

ibrahim marghoob Aug 24, 2015 06:27pm

hats off to you guys. As a nation we should be proud of these two. Despite living a hand to mouth life, they are actually helping others. Truly impressive dil main jaga honi chahye,

None Aug 24, 2015 06:42pm

Everyone should pray for these gentlemen for their nice work.

Madhusudan Aug 24, 2015 07:12pm

They should be given financial aid by ngo"s to carry and further expand their work and make it big social task.

Syed Abbas Aug 24, 2015 07:20pm

This is my Pakistan!

excalibur Aug 24, 2015 07:33pm

God Bless these souls

Asif Jamil Aug 24, 2015 07:43pm

Very inspiring story of two selfless people who care for those in need. It is people like Aashique and Zafar who make the world a better place.

I hope our politicians read this story and learn from these two gentlemen what public service is!

Irfan Aug 24, 2015 07:44pm

Faith in humanity, faith in Pakistani restored

Muhammad Ali Shahani Aug 24, 2015 08:07pm

Excellent work by these two. there is another group from Kotri town, who also run same service, need to be covered on same page!

suhail Yusuf Aug 24, 2015 08:25pm

Dear Brother Manesh Kumar, It is a wonderful story still eligible to publish in the international media. I am touched with the selfless effort these wonderful men. Next time I will try to meet him. Hats off to the author again.

najeeb Aug 24, 2015 08:43pm

Hats off to these two guys.

Adeel Azmat Aug 24, 2015 08:56pm

great to see such things and events being reports. great work.

Muhammed ali Aug 24, 2015 09:37pm

Great item....just shows that there are god fearing people in Pakistan.

Nadir Syed Aug 24, 2015 09:45pm

This is my city Hyderabad. I feel proud that these lovely souls belong to my city, Hyderabad Sindh. In fact this story is not confined to Hyderabad only, my lovely country has people like them in every town and city across the nation. I left Hyderabad for Dubai 11 years ago, but sweet memories of my Hyderabad are still fresh and alive in my heart.

Arshad Jummani Aug 24, 2015 10:14pm

Excellent friendship....Excellent Service.....Bravo Guys !!!!!

Dr. Sehar Khan Aug 24, 2015 10:58pm

God Bless You!!! Dawn News, how can I contact them? Please email me, I will deeply appreciate... Thanks.

Shujaat Khan Aug 24, 2015 11:03pm

I rather read these kind of stories from Pakistan all day long than the blah blah blah of politicians . Weldon Boys your friendship and giving back to your community is inspirational . Big Thanks to Dawn for printing such stories of real Pakistanis .

Dr. Sehar Khan Aug 24, 2015 11:04pm

Thank you Dawn News...That's why you are the best...Thank you Manesh Kumar...May God bless you and your family...I am deeply touched by these two great human beings. Lets do something to them to expand their humanitarian work. O man love it!!! Dawn News please forward their contact number to me...Thanks.

Akhtar Quraishi Aug 24, 2015 11:08pm

May Almighty give them reward of these Khidmat and make them safe and protect them. This is the spirit was country was born and found a true Muslim country. Both set an example for us to learn from them and get this humanity back in order. Every drop in the bucket count hope and pray that security situation allow more people to rethink and do what ever they can to help he fellow brothers.

saleem Aug 24, 2015 11:19pm

this is the change common people bring; kudos to them

Saad Aug 24, 2015 11:50pm

Wow! I am speechless. And just this morning I was sitting in my office (in a western country) complaining about my mundane life and after reading this I feel embarrassed.

saeeds Aug 25, 2015 12:25am

Thank Mr. Kumar for writing such a wonderful articles.These two really ashamed me . Why don't they like most of us just complaining , whining and asking for more entitlements.

Arisha G Aug 25, 2015 01:41am

What a wonderful and uplifting story. Wish people, if they can afford to, do give them tips for this service as they make use of the free ride. May they rewarded in this life and teh hereafter for their kind deens.

Naeem Aug 25, 2015 07:35am

What a heart warming story. We can all learn a lot from these selfless people. When you give you get much more in return

SAIMA Aug 25, 2015 08:46am

amazing motivational spirit! you guys made us proud

Syed Ali Aug 25, 2015 09:11am

@Nadir Syed There is something about Hyderabad that no country in the world offers; may be it is the people or evening breeze of Hyderabad. To be exact I left Hyderabad 45 years ago but Hyderabad is in my heart. This story reminds me of a famous quote by John F. Kennedy ,"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Pakistan can use hero's like these two gentlemen; and yes there are other hero's in Pakistan too. God bless them.

sajjad Aug 25, 2015 09:14am

these are the true heroes of the nation that need to be recognized and celebrated. these people make me believe that there is still goodness left in the country where darkness prevails

Manoj Aug 25, 2015 09:36am

Very nice effort.. I want to gift two bikes to these gentlemen.. how do I do it.. does anyone has their contact info?

Ayaz Aug 25, 2015 09:37am

Great..I have also thought of doing a work that is something I can return to society, now you have showed me a way..

OI Aug 25, 2015 09:53am

Bravo!!! Salute to the duo... They make us proud....

Siddiqui Aug 25, 2015 09:59am

Call of soul...

SHAKIR BAAKZA Aug 25, 2015 11:13am

True Muslim spirit and above all a true human being.

Ehsan karim Aug 25, 2015 11:21am

It is very difficult to find selfless people like you these days. Stay blessed.

Ehsan karim Aug 25, 2015 11:23am

@Asif Jamil : Not only politicians but people like you and me too.

imran Aug 25, 2015 11:28am

What a great and heart warming story. Any chance we can get their details to fund a new bike?

Javaid Aug 25, 2015 11:33am

Bravo!

haris Aug 25, 2015 11:44am

MashaAllah, excellent job by both of you. We need to highlight such unsung heroes of our lives. They are the people who need to be identified and projected so that others get a motivation from them and contribute to our society in any possible manner. Thanks to the writer for introducing such heroes to our lives.

MARYAM Aug 25, 2015 12:24pm

Such great people with great soul! What a great example set by two amazing persons Hats off !

think_then_speak Aug 25, 2015 12:30pm

Nice work.

Sajjad Razza Aug 25, 2015 12:33pm

Inspirational !

sam Aug 25, 2015 01:20pm

Amazed to know the presence of such incredible people amidst nation who are selflessly doing their part...respect!

Osman Nadeem Aug 25, 2015 01:29pm

Deeply impressed, very inspiring tale of friendship and philanthropy. Will appreciate if i can be given their contact number, would love to speak to them and thank them for all the good work they have done.

Thumbs up for a well drafted article as well.

Abu.Ashhad Aug 25, 2015 01:40pm

Thank you Manesh for letting us this inspirational story and thanks to Ashique & Zafar for their friendship, love, dedication. This story really pumped me up!

MHW Aug 25, 2015 03:09pm

Ala.. no words. very limited capacity of these two but doing a huge social work. Love them.

janan Aug 25, 2015 03:19pm

I am a average jeo doing 9-5 job, these dudes moved me and Inshallah i will also do something for fellow human being.

zak Aug 25, 2015 03:34pm

It is incredible. We the netizens should spread this using the available forum.

Citizens ought to come forward and share. Our collective care and share can transform into a non-profit job creating enterprise.

Bravo Aashiq and Zafar the real sons of land of Shah Latif!

faheem Aug 25, 2015 03:34pm

Feel ashamed that what all I have and how little I share with others .

Muhammad A Mahmood Aug 25, 2015 03:35pm

I am moved by this. People like Zafar and Aashique make us a proud top tier philanthropist nation. I wonder if donations could be made for their cause.

Pakistani Aug 25, 2015 03:57pm

Amazing a patriotic Pakistani hindu writer informing us of a couple of heroes who despite their poverty are helping others. Now how will the Indians get a chance to write something negative here. But if they dig deep, maybe they can still find some fault here.......

sri1 Aug 25, 2015 04:21pm

Truly touching - finding purpose in life by helping the people in need. And true friendship and companionship. These are universal human values and appreciated by everyone. --- Another Indian from across the border. (@Pakistani Your comment "amazing to you to see a patriotic Pakistani Hindu writer" and your pleasant surprise to find a person like this is amusing to many of us Indians. Most of us are over religion, that fact that a person is Indian is enough f0r us!)

amjad Aug 25, 2015 04:24pm

Real philanthropist

ibrahim Aug 25, 2015 04:48pm

Please let us know how we can donate or help them

Pervin nasir Aug 25, 2015 04:49pm

Wonderful work they are doing . God bless them.

Pervin nasir Aug 25, 2015 04:50pm

Wonderful Work they are doing . God bless them.

Pervin nasir Aug 25, 2015 04:51pm

Wonderful work they are doing . God bless them.

Qamar Abbas Aug 25, 2015 05:44pm

Simply amazing and very inspiring!

Mustufa Hussain Aug 25, 2015 06:00pm

Wonderful .. appreciating such unsung soldiers is undoubtedly a great peace of work.

Manesh Aug 26, 2015 10:08am

@Manoj you can contact here; maneshthar@gmail.com

Shivan Aug 26, 2015 01:07pm

This is too much! Till I came across a comment saying "This is my city Hyderabad, Sindh", all the time I was thinking the author was talking about the Hyderabad in India! Same people, same faces, same names of localities, same ethos.

Hussain Aug 27, 2015 02:44pm

@MANESH KUMAR i would like to contact you for an offer, if you are interested please contact me at fakharalamraja{at}gmail.com