My Dark Times: A Survivor’s Story

NYTimes – April 28, 2103 |


I did not have any intention to go abroad, but it was what I had to do. The circumstances were deteriorating day by day. In recent years, Pakistan has been plagued by sectarian violence and extremism. Especially our community has faced most terrorist attacks because of their distinct looks. Every day we witnessed targeted killing, persecution and sectarian violence that made our community the most vulnerable. Our community was declared a community of infidels by terrorists, making our life miserable. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a brainchild of SSP and the Taliban, made it clear that the only place for the Hazara is the graveyard. Those were the reasons for me to take some concrete steps for my survival.

As a young, energetic and ambitious student, I understood that one day I could lose my life in random killings. Then I opted for the desperate journey that would take me through Malaysia and Indonesia and finally, I hoped, to Australia.

I got a Malaysian visa and left Pakistan in early July 2012. In Malaysia I found a smuggler, who arranged my journey to Indonesia. I stayed two days in Kuala Lumpur and paid him $2,000 just to get me to Jakarta. He promised me that he would take me to Jakarta within one week, but in fact that did not happen.

In the evening of July 26, 2012, after dark, we were taken from a hotel in Kuala Lumpur to the coast from where we set course for Indonesia. We arrived at the departure point on the shore at 10 p.m. We were in the jungle, it was dark and there was a strong wind. The smuggler told us that we would land in Indonesia within four hours. But in fact, it took us ten-and-a-half hours because the man who steered the boat had lost his way. If there had been an emergency, we would not have had any means to ensure our survival. A storm blew up, and there was just the darkness of the night and the horrifying storm. The boat was very small and it was moving very fast. We all got wet. We could have lost our lives within seconds.



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