Afghan citizen dies of cancer in Karachi jail


Naimat Khan

KARACHI: An Afghan national, who visited Pakistan for treatment but was detained by police, has died of cancer inside a jail in the port city of Karachi, refugees here said on Wednesday.

Abdul Ahad, a resident of northern Baghlan province, had arrived through the Torkham border crossing into northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province before reaching Karachi for admission to the Agha Khan Hospital.

He was accompanied by his brother’s wife, Seema, and nephew Abdul Basir on his journey from Baghlan to Karachi, where all the three ended up in jail for lacking legal travel documents.

Haji Abdullah, an Afghan refugee elder at a camp in Karachi, told this scribe Abdul Ahad had been treated free of cost at the Agha Khan Hospital because he belonged to the Ismaili sect.

He said the cancer patient had previously been treated at the same hospital, but this time he ended up in jail instead of the hospital.

Abdullah said the police did not release Abdul Ahad despite his medical history and continued to keep him behind bars until died.

He said Abdul Ahad’s crime to travel to Pakistan without legal documents was not a big one as dozens of Afghans arrived in the country without having legal travel documents for treatment and business tasks.

Abdul Ahad was once shifted from the jail to the Agha Khan Hospital after his condition deteriorated, but police arrested him again after discharged.

The elder said Abdul Ahad breathed his last three days ago in the jail, but his brother’s wife and nephew continued to languish somewhere in a Karachi jail.

“His corpse is placed at a morgue of the Edhi Foundation and the Agha Khan Hospital is trying to shift his body to Afghanistan,” the elder said.

Ansar Burney, a leading Pakistani human rights and civil rights activist, told that on the one hand Pakistan called Afghanistan a brotherly nation and on the other detained its citizens.

He said in some cases, the laws should not be considered and no ailing person should be jailed on humanitarian grounds.

He said the police should have consulted the Afghan Consulate regarding Abdul Ahad and should have released him on bail.

An official at the Agha Khan Hospital confirmed Abdul Ahad had died in jail and that they were making efforts to shift his body to Afghanistan.

The news story was originally filed in Pashto by this scribe as freelancer for Pajhwok which published it with English version (Please read the Pashto story here and the English version here)

Author: Naimat

Karachi based journalist, writing on national and international issues.

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