Monday, April 22, 2024

Saddam’s Great Iraq – 12

The war was on. Iraqi Airways was completely grounded and sheltered. No air service of any airline was functioning because Iran had threatened that it will target anything in the air. By the end of 1980, I got about 4 weeks leave sanctioned for visit to Pakistan. The route was journey by bus up to Kuwait and therefrom over to Karachi and Lahore by PIA (Pakistan International Airline), and then by rail or road to hometown Sialkot.

We were five Pakistanis going home on leave. There was a fellow from my own hometown, who lived quite near to my residence. He was highly polished gentleman inspite of the fact that he was employed only as a foreman on a construction project. He did impress everybody. Only Karamat Sher of Ziarat Kaka Sahib near Noshehra, was from my profession and my department. All of us had purchased the bus tickets well in advance. Everybody was busy in pre journey shopping. This period before departure used to be very charming and exciting. This period of preparation and shopping used to be all joy.

We boarded the bus at 10 PM at night. It was a good bus. I did not sleep for the whole night, and kept gazing into the vastness of the desert areas passing by in dark. I think it was part of joy for reaching home. We reached the check post at Kuwait border and after clearance from the Iraqis and later Kuwaitis, we started for Kuwait airport by a hired car. The driver charged us quite heavily. When we reached a crossing wherefrom the road turned to Kuwait city, our program was suddenly changed by Mr. Karamat Sher. He asked the driver to go to city. The driver hesitated and told us that it was not permitted. Mr. Karamat Sher stressed upon his instruction for which the driver told us that he will not be responsible if the police interfered. Mr. Karamat was bold enough. He told the driver that we were doing so at our own risk and that he could leave immediately after dropping us near the city. We reached the city carrying our baggage. For hours we remained busy in shopping and exchanging money. City was beautiful and well kept. It is a super market of imported goods from all over the world. There were many Pakistani and Indian shops. Rates of everything were high. Sometime the shop keepers were ready to sell their items at 25% less than demanded prices. When the flight time was tight we drove over to the airport. It is a very neat and tidy airport. I saw Philippines cleaning the floors. On introduction they told us that they were Muslims of Philippine and due to activity of Muslims freedom fighters, they were the affected. They said that they were grateful to the government of Kuwait for giving them employment. Now it was time for departure and to board the plane.

After reaching Karachi, the traveling team got scattered. Everybody had to take his own flight over to Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, etc. By the connecting flight I reached Lahore for onward journey to Sialkot.

During this visit to Pakistan I managed a visit to my father’s village Dhoda, Tehsil Pasroor, where my father was born. When both of his parents died one after the other, sister of my father’s mother accepted him as her own family member in Sialkot, 45 kilometres from the village Dhoda. Apparently, there is nothing particular in this background. But special arrangement were being ordained by Almighty to settle us in Sialkot where I was going to be reared and educated, whereas my uncles and cousins still live in the village ploughing and harvesting their products and all of them form a big family. Village Dhoda is historical and its history can be traced back to far before the Mughal Periods. Before independence it used to be a central market place for all the surrounding villages and localities.

It was time to be back to Baghdad. I boarded the plane for my journey back to Baghdad. I reported for duty in the head office, and continued attended office in waiting for decision towards my new assignment. When the final decision came, I came to know that it was a project in the absolute desert area in Southern Iraq near the famous city of Nasria. Actual project site, of course, was at a considerable distance from the big city. There was no question of approaching that city for daily needs. Later we were informed that there was a small village wherefrom the daily necessities could be purchased. This village was only a few kilometres from our camping site.


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Category: Travel

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