KARACHI, Pakistan, June 17 (Reuters) – A former Pakistani civil servant named Shahid Mehmood, who is now retired, did everything in his power to dissuade his son from leaving for Europe in the hopes of finding a better life there.
But Shehryar Sultan, who was 25 years old at the time, was adamant on going.
Now, the father is afraid that his kid was one among those who perished in the tragic boat capsize that occurred off the coast of Greece on Wednesday. It is believed that hundreds of people, including Pakistanis, perished in the incident. The family continued to hope and pray that he would be found alive, but by Friday evening, they had begun to give up hope.
Mehmood, who is 60 years old, stated that a local travel agency had demanded 2.2 million Pakistani rupees ($7,653) in order to book a trip for his son, with the guarantee that he would do well financially in Europe.
“I made an effort to stop him and advised him to forget the whole thing,” she said. “However, the travel agent had completely indoctrinated him by telling him, ‘You will only be on the way for two to three days,'” the father explained. “My son was gullible, and as a result, he went along with them.”
He did not reveal the identity of the agent.
Inflation in Pakistan is at a record high, and the country’s economy is also experiencing a slump, which was made worse by the disastrous floods that occurred last year.
Even though Mehmood’s son did not have a travel document, an identity card, or a passport, the individuals who organized the trip flew him out of the central city of Faisalabad. Mehmood stated that the persons who organized the trip flew him out of Faisalabad.
According to Mehmood, his son spent two days in Dubai, followed by six days in Egypt, before boarding a plane to Libya that was so overbooked that passengers were forced to sit on the floor.
Prior to embarking on his journey at sea, Sultan spent around four months in Tripoli, where he lived in what his father described as deplorable conditions. When Mehmood heard about the circumstances in Libya, he reportedly made an effort to convince the agent to bring his son back to the United States, but nothing came of it.
He stated that he had not heard from his son Sultan from the time when Sultan boarded a boat, which he thinks to be the one that sank.
“He informed me in a message that he was currently aboard a boat with around four hundred to five hundred other individuals. “And it was anticipated that they would be at sea for either five or six days,” Mehmood remembered.
Adnan Iftikhar, who is Sultan’s cousin, stated on Friday that the family was able to confirm that one of Sultan’s friends was one of the victims of the attack.
Witness testimonies claimed that between 400 and 750 people had packed the fishing boat that sunk around 50 miles (80 km) off the southern Greek town of Pylos on Wednesday. If these claims are accurate, then the dead toll from Wednesday’s accident might range into the several hundreds.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Greek officials reported that 104 survivors and 78 remains of those who had died were brought ashore. There was a diminishing chance that any more persons were still alive.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan said on Saturday that there were twelve Pakistanis among the survivors of the boat capsize; however, it did not have any information on the number of Pakistanis who perished or their names.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in the unfortunate ferry disaster in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Greece,” Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said in a tweet on Saturday. “My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in this tragic event.”
According to officials from the Greek government, the majority of the individuals who were on board the boat that sank were from the countries of Egypt, Syria, and Pakistan.
“Everything about this is incorrect. According to Mehmood, the government ought to exercise stricter regulation over all of these various kinds of travel brokers. “This is inhumane treatment. Cruelty pure and simple, causing misery to bereaved parents that they can never get over for the rest of their life.