PESHAWAR: Afghan national Abdul Malik seeking treatment of his young son covered hundreds of kilometres to reach Peshawar from Kabul in 13 days.
Normally, it takes a day to cover the distance of about 229 kilometres between Kabul and Peshawar but due to closure of Torkham border, Abdul Malik had gone back from Torkham border via Jalalabad to Kabul and from there he went to Kandahar to cross into Pakistan via Spin Boldak.
To obtain visas for travel to Pakistan, Abdul Malik and his son were quarantined for 10 days in the Afghan capital as per the standard operating procedure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Hailing from Baghlan province in Afghanistan, Abdul Malik’s journey to Peshawar prolonged when he reached Quetta where he was misguided by drivers and made to board a Karachi-bound bus.
Abdul Malik, 55, is a Persian-speaking Afghan and can speak Pashto as well. He had spent some time in Peshawar and other cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while getting religious education at seminaries in the late 80s.
He had informed some of his Afghan acquaintances and a local journalist in Peshawar about his visit to the provincial capital for the treatment of his ailing son Abdul Majid. “When I reached Kuchlak border in Balochistan, I phoned a friend in Peshawar to inform him that I had arrived in Pakistan. I asked him how much time it would take to reach Peshawar from Quetta,” said Abdul Malik, who is known as Qari Sahib as he teaches at a local seminary in Baghlan.
As he came to know that instead of Peshawar, he was travelling to Karachi in a bus he again phoned the local journalist in Peshawar and told him that the condition of his son was worsening due to prolonged travelling.
When the father and son reached Karachi, they got a room in a hotel in Pakistan’s port city and stayed there for a day where he was advised to consult a doctor or visit a hospital but he had neither any acquaintance nor was familiar with the city.
He had no option but to go to Peshawar by bus. He reached Peshawar on Friday (July 09) and rented a room in a local hotel in Dabgari Garden.
Abdul Malik’s son Abdul Majid, 23, has been suffering from a brain tumor. Doctors in Afghanistan had advised him to go to Pakistan where he could be treated at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore or other major hospitals.
Abdul Majid, a student of grade 12, received treatment for about eight months in Afghanistan, but his condition did not improve.
According to his father, he had visited senior and specialist doctors in Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan but the pain and illness of his only son had increased.
With the help of a senior journalist in Peshawar, Abdul Malik got an appointment with a senior neurosurgeon Prof Dr Mumtaz who admitted him at private hospital, Prime Hospital Peshawar, for further treatment.
After coming to know about the ordeal and sufferings of the Afghan national, a senior doctor told this scribe that Torkham border must be opened for serious patients on humanitarian grounds.
He said the majority of serious Afghan patients were referred to hospitals in Peshawar.
Abdul Malik, who spent a lot of money on travel and stay at hotels, said that the management of a private hospital demanded a big amount for the treatment of his son and he would now arrange money from Afghanistan.
The poor Afghan national appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Afghanistan Ambassador in Pakistan and other well-off people in Pakistan to make arrangements for the treatment of his son in Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital in Lahore or other major hospitals as he had covered long distance in the hope that his son would get proper treatment in Pakistan.
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