Body of Pakistani killed in Iraq arrives
By Shahnawaz Khan
LAHORE: The family of Habibur Rehman, who was reportedly killed in Iraq in January 2004, received his body on Monday with directions from the authorities in Pakistan not to open the coffin. He was buried in a local graveyard an hour after his body reached home, but his family is not sure that body in the coffin was that of Rehman’s.
“Even after waiting for one-and-a-half years, we do not know that the body we have buried is our father’s or someone else’s. We were not allowed to open the coffin,” Taimur, Rehman’s 25-year old son, told Daily Times.
Rehamn, 52, a resident of Shalimar Link Road, left Pakistan years ago to earn a better livelihood for his family. He had three sons and six daughters. He was working in a Saudi Arabia-based oil company in Damam as a driver. The company got a project in Kuwait and Rehman was sent there. Later, the company sent him to Iraq.
“On January 25, 2004, my father called and told me that he was going to Iraq. After this he went missing,” Taimur said. “In March 2004, Muhammad Riaz, another Pakistani employee in the same oil company, told my family the fact that Rehman was driving a vehicle for the oil company when his convoy was attacked by Iraqi rebels,” he added. “After this news, we contacted Mr Manzoor, an official at the Pakistani Embassy in Saudi Arabia, but he said the matter was related to the Pakistani Embassy in Kuwait. We contacted Mian Amir Hussain, an official at the Pakistan Embassy in Kuwait, who advised us to contact the Foreign Office in Islamabad. We did this several times, but to no avail,” Taimur said.
“Last week, a deputy director from the Overseas Department called us to say that my father’s body had been identified. Some officials from the Pakistan International Airlines’ cargo office also contacted us in this regard.”
“The Overseas Department and the PIA cargo officials told us not to open the coffin but we did not agree. The officials said that the body of Rehman was putrefied and frozen with chemicals for the last one-and-a-half year. They warned us of medical problems if the coffin was opened. They said that they would bury Rehman in Iraq if we did not agree to their conditions. On this, we agreed to bury my father without opening the coffin,” Taimur said.
Taimur said the authorities did not give his father’s passport and national identity card as identification. “They gave only a paper written in Arabic and said this was the only identification of your father. We are not sure that the person we have buried is my father,” Taimur said.