WAZIR DHAND, Pakistan: A Pakistani trucker pardoned this July by Saudi Arabia after spending seven years in jail following a deadly road accident returned to his hometown in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday where emotional relatives and friends gathered to receive him.
Zahir Hussain Zar Khan went to Saudi Arabia from the Pakistani town of Peshawar in 2012 to work as a trucker but ended up in jail after getting into a road accident that killed four people. Since then, unable to pay the 1.3 million riyals – or $350,000 – in blood money to the relatives of those who had died, Khan had languished in jail.
In July, Saudi Arabia’s bait-ul-maal social welfare organization paid off the blood money and Khan was finally free to return home, landing at Peshawar city’s Bacha Khan International Airport on Tuesday.
Khan emerged from the arrivals gate in tears as he embraced his children and met jubilant family and friends. From the airport, he drove straight to his ancestral graveyard to offer prayers for his father who passed away while Khan was imprisoned in the Kingdom.
“Spending years in imprisonment, neither my kids recognized me nor I them,” Khan told Arab News at the airport as he choked on tears and hugged his seven-year-old son. “But today I am among my children and we all pray for the stability of the Saudi government and the long life of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman who payed such a big amount of money on my behalf.”
Khan said he would have spent another 20 years in jail had the crown prince not intervened and showed mercy.
“When I rushed to hug my ailing mother, she started weeping, all the while praying for the long life of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman,” Khan said.
Pir Zada, Khan’s younger brother who studies on a scholarship in the United Kingdom, said he had flown to Pakistan from London after he learnt that his brother had been released.
“The last wish of my ailing mother was to see Zar Khan alive once in her lifetime,” Khan’s brother said. “We don’t know how to express our happiness and gratitude to the Saudi government and the Crown Prince.”
As Khan reached his hometown of Wazir Dhand in Khyber district, relatives and neighbours thronged to his house to greet him, putting garlands around his neck and showering him with prayers.
Tribal elder Haji Khudadad said the government of Saudi Arabia and the crown prince had set a great precedent by paying Khan’s blood money.
“Today, it is like Eid in Wazir Dhand,” Khudadad said. “I feel rose petals are pouring in from the sky because it feels like Khan has got another life. Thank you Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salam and thank you Saudi Arabia.”