UAE amnesty: Pakistani family 'forced to live in car' to finally fly home
An unemployed Pakistani man – who claims to have been living in a friend’s car with his pregnant wife and five daughters for over 50 days – has been able to procure an outpass for his family, thanks to the ongoing UAE visa amnesty scheme.
M. Khan (full name withheld on request) is relieved that his family will not have to face the distressing ordeal anymore, even though he himself will not be able to fly out of the UAE immediately since he faces a travel ban. “I just want the sufferings of my children and wife to end. I can wait to go back but I want to see them flying back to Pakistan soon. I am overjoyed to get the outpass for my family,” he said.
The three-month amnesty that began on August 1 turned out to be a boon for Khan. When he heard about the scheme, he rushed to get his family’s case cleared. Since Khan lost his job in 2016, he had not been able to renew visas for his wife and two daughters. The other three daughters – born in 2012, 2014 and 2016 – didn’t have visas since Khan couldn’t afford them. The girls even had to stop going to school.
The crisis-hit man approached various charity organisations but it was only the Pakistani Association Dubai (PAD) that provided him a helping hand. It not only provided him financial help, but also got his papers done. Under the amnesty rule, the overstaying fines against his family were waived, too.
Khan first came to the country in 2004 and started working in a bank. He said he received a handsome salary and all benefits he could ask for. A few days after his marriage in 2009, he brought his wife to the UAE. “I lived life king size, owned three cars and had two caretakers for my children. The day I lost my job, everything collapsed and changed,” Khan told. This was in 2016.
The family were dealt a rude blow when they were forced out of their accommodation in Sharjah after Khan was unable to pay the rent. A case was filed against him for which he even served three months in jail. During his time in prison, his wife and children stayed at a relatives’ place. “It was one of the toughest times in my life. The lawyer we hired couldn’t bail me out,” he said.
The family moved to another accommodation, but were shunted out from there as well. They lived in the house of Khan’s friend, but had to leave that too. Moved by their plight, his friend gave Khan his car and asked him to use it as he pleased.
“I have been living in the car with my five daughters and pregnant wife for nearly 50 days now,” said Khan. The family spends half the day in different malls and then goes to the friend’s place to wash and bath, before heading back to the car to spend the night in it.
Khan had earned well during his career in the UAE, but he lost all money when he invested it in a business with one of his relatives. “My brother-in-law had started a business in Dubai and I pooled in all my savings. Unfortunately, the business fell flat and I lost all my money.”
A distraught Khan started knocking at different doors for help, but they were closed on him since he didn’t have a job. Khan had a hard time making ends meet and feeding his kids. “We had to sell whatever piece of jewellery we had left to buy diapers and milk for our daughters,” Khan said.
As he lost all hopes, Khan gave it one last try and approached the Pakistan Association Dubai.
Mr. Shahid-ul-Islam, who heads the welfare committee at the PAD, said the association had been following the case for four months. “We have helped him get passports, birth certificates of his children and other documents. We have been providing every possible financial help to him. We really hope his worries end and he goes back to his home country.”
Khan’s 6-year-old daughter, Azra, and her twin sister are eagerly waiting to fly to their home country. The moment they are in Pakistan, the first thing they want to do is meet their nani (their mother’s aunt). The two, like their other three sisters, have never seen Pakistan and never met any of their relatives. Their communication with their kin has been through Skype.
“We are very excited to go home. We want to see nani first,” said the girls, beaming with joy.
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