IT has been almost 18 months since I last heard anything about my son who was working with a private company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I have tried all possible channels to have him located, but all paths have led me to a blind alley with a dead end.

I had been working in Saudi Arabia along with my 36-year-old son, Syed Mohammad Ali, until my service contract ended last year. For the preceding few months, I had been observing some signs of mental disturbance in my son, and as my departure came close, the frequency and intensity of his symptoms increased.

To avoid any legal action, I had to leave before March 27. As the day came closer, I realised that my son’s condition was deteriorating and he was showing signs and symptoms of some serious psychiatric ailment. I tried to convince him to have a medical check-up, but, as is characteristic of such patients, he refused point blank, and stuck to his stance that everything was just fine. However, I explored the matter and found his symptoms being similar to those of schizophrenia.

As time was running out for me, I tried my best to somehow convince him to return to Pakistan with me, but he was adamant not to. Upon his stubborn behaviour, I wrote to his employer, SMSA Express, and to the consulate general of Pakistan in Jeddah to inform them about his symptoms and the potential harm he could pose to himself and to the employer. Upon receiving no word from either party till my departure, I left Saudi Arabia alone.

After my departure, the consulate contacted the police in Jeddah and informed the officials about my son and his health issues, requesting them to deport him immediately. Sitting in Pakistan, I helped the police to locate and get hold of him. He spent about 10 days in jail, but Pakistani authorities in Saudi Arabia failed to have him shifted to Pakistan. Seeing the lack of interest shown by the Pakistani officials, Saudi police, I have been told, released him from custody. Since his release, my son, my only son, has gone missing.

I have done everything that I possibly could to have even a remote trace of his presence somewhere, but have found none. I have written letters to the highest authorities both in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and to all the officials who have any relevance to this case, but all my efforts seem to have hit some invisible wall.

How hard it can be for anyone to imagine the agony I and my family are going through. We do not even know if our son is alive. All we have requested the authorities to do, and are continuing to request, is to send him back to Pakistan; to us. We will arrange for his travel expenses and everything.

Will someone somewhere in a position of authority have mercy on us? Please.

Syed Nasir Ali
Karachi

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2022

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