After 20 years of separation from his family, Dr Khalil Chishty finally landed in his hometown, Karachi, on Wednesday night. The atmosphere at the airport was electric, as scores of media persons stood in position, waiting for the 80-year-old Pakistani doctor to emerge from the passenger lounge.
Chishty, who reached Islamabad from New Delhi on Tuesday, was arrested in a murder case in the Indian state of Rajasthan in 1992, was recently released on bail by the Indian Supreme Court and allowed to travel to Pakistan.
"Not once did I lose hope: I always believed in the power of prayers, and today my prayers have been answered," said Shua Javed, Chishty's daughter. Shua was flanked by her sons, nephews and nieces, who were also waiting eagerly.
"I last met him in 2005. I am so excited," said a smiling Wasey Ahmed, one of Chishty's grandsons. Chishty's wife, who came along with the family, was too overwhelmed to speak.
"We will not work for the next few days. We will just sit and talk to him," said Shua, who was extremely thankful to both the media and civil society for helping bring her father home.Though he may not be aware of it, Chishty has become something of a celebrity; people who came to receive passengers waited to get a glimpse of the doctor, whose arrival had brought the domestic arrival lounge to a complete standstill.
Women came and greeted the family members, as they waited for him to arrive. Senator Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was present to escort Chishty's family members into the lounge, which was jam-packed with airport security, media persons and members of the public.
Amid showers of rose petals, thundering claps and cheers, Chishty - surrounded by his immediate family members and with senators Babar Ghauri and Nasreen Jalil on either side - emerged from the passenger lounge. He was immediately enveloped by a horde of cameramen who were pushing and shoving one another in their attempt to capture the maiden footage of his arrival.
Chishty's family was forced to leave his side because of the shoving. Chishty himself was escorted by security officials to a car which transported him to his residence in North Nazimabad. The Pakistani scientist did not talk to the media at the airport.
He arrived to a house lit up and a picture of MQM chief Altaf Hussain. For many in the neighbourhood, Dr Khalil Chishty's homecoming was the source of entertainment on a boring weekday: scores had gathered near the house in the hope of congratulating Mrs Chishty, who had been waiting for this moment for 20 years.
He arrived in a black car, alongside his wife and daughter, Dr Tariqa Chishty; his children and grandchildren followed, they were brimming with excitement as many of them had met him only once or twice in India.
Arhama, his nine-year old granddaughter, stood fidgeting beside her mother: she was still waiting to hug her 'nana' - the airport had been too crowded."I met him when I was a baby and could barely walk. Now, I will sit with him, kiss him and talk all night."
Moinuddin, an equally excited 11-year-old, had last met his 'nana' when he was four. "I want to ask him how India was like, and hear stories."Twelve-year-old Aimen exclaimed, "I will finally have him home."
Sweets were distributed and rose-petals showered, but the frail Dr Chishty, who has suffered a hip bone fracture and two angina attacks, was tired from the journey and the large crowd. After a brief press conference in which his daughter, Shua Javed, thanked Indian civil society, the Pakistani media, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the lawyers who had guided them through legal proceedings, Chishty retired to his room in his house.
He told his family how he had only spent one-and-a-half year in jail; the rest of the time was spent in his father's house in a village in India. He said the Indian government had treated him well, but complained that an issue which should have taken a month took him one year.
Dr Chishty is to stay in Pakistan for five months, after which the family promises they will send their old father back, because it is "a commitment made to the Indian government".Relatives living abroad are already making arrangements to meet Dr Chishty. It is expected that the family home in North Nazimabad will be a 'full-house' by the end of the month.
"The first thing to be done will be to get him to the doctor, after that we will have all the celebratory dinners," said his daughter, Dr Tariqa Chishty.While others drifted away, Mrs Chishty was beyond words: exhausted by the long wait and too happy to speak, the only indication of her happiness were her sparkling eyes.
Chishty's family members were all praise for Aman ki Asha - the joint initiative taken by the Jang Group and The Times of India to help create an environment conducive to facilitating efforts to improve ties between Pakistan and India. They thanked Geo, Aman ki Asha and Beena Sarwar for launching and spearheading a campaign for Chishty's release. "Our hopes were revived by the Aman ki Asha platform," said one of his daughters.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Page 183 of 175
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw