KARACHI: Over 450 Pakistanis deported from Oman after their arrest for illegally entering the Gulf state and serving imprisonments up to a year returned here on Friday after sailing for more than two days in a cargo launch, which was allowed to anchor at the Karachi port after a minister’s intervention.
Officials said the cargo launch, Al-Basit, carrying 485 men anchored at Ghas Bandar at around 3am. After a nearly nine-hour-long process, 477 of them were allowed to go home and eight were arrested for ‘repeating the illegal act’.
“Of the deportees, 362 hailed from different areas of Punjab, 75 from Sindh, 44 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and four from Balochistan,” said Rahmatullah Dhomki, the officer-in-charge of the immigration cell of the Federal Investigation Agency at Ghas Bander, who supervised the whole exercise.
“The eight arrested people have been booked under the Immigration Ordinance 1979 as despite once deported by the Omani authorities, they again attempted illegal immigration and were arrested. They would be produced in court. The other 477 people were released, given food and money to travel back home in different areas of Pakistan.”
He said the process that started a little after 3am ended by 12noon. It included recording of personal data of each deportee and details of the illegal process which took them to Oman. The record showed that most of them paid up to Rs40,000 to agents for illegal immigration.
Earlier, after the launch entered Pakistani waters, the port authorities and other agencies denied anchorage to Al-Basit in the middle of the night citing security reasons. However, after the intervention of federal minister for ports and shipping Babar Khan Ghori the launch was allowed to proceed and arrangements were made to handle the situation.
Visibly exhausted, a few deportees shared with Dawn the ordeal of their journey back to Karachi and the illegal stay in Oman that included imprisonment. They said they paid from Rs30,000 to Rs40,000 to the agents to help them illegally enter the Gulf state.
“I paid Rs35,000 and entered Oman in March 2012,” said Nasrullah Khan from Bannu, one of the 485 deportees.
“We were some 25 or 30 people who were first brought here to Karachi before being taken to Gwadar. From Gwadar, we left for Iran and then finally reached Muscat, where we were arrested the very next week of our arrival.”
He was well aware of the risk involved in the process, but took a chance to secure a job there. In his early 40s and father of three, Mr Khan, however, seemed convinced that “it was not a good idea”.
“I worked as a woodcutter and it was almost impossible to make ends meet for a five-member family with such a low income. In fact, it’s poverty that forces you to make such desperate attempts,” he said.