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How Turkish minister helped Pakistani mother cope with grief | Pakistan

PESHAWAR: Grief and bereavement can often tear people apart. But sometimes, it can also bring strangers together. Something of this sort happened to a mother in Peshawar, whose son Salman Khan died in Bulgaria while trying to migrate to Germany.

The devastated mother knocked on several doors, with scraps of information about her dead son. No one helped, except for a young Turkish minister.

“Salman left the house in December 2016,” Shaukat Khan, the deceased’s brother tells Geo.tv in Peshawar. “He and a cousin, Ismail, illegally crossed the border from Iran to Turkey and then into Europe, where he planned to stay and start afresh.”

During a stopover in Bulgaria, both were caught by the law-enforcement agencies, who, claim the family, tortured them. The men were stripped of their clothes, interrogated and their belongings were confiscated. Later, they were set free. But they had nowhere to go. Alone, with barely any warm clothing, the young men roamed the snow-covered border between Bulgaria and Turkey for days, until Salman froze to death.

Author with family of the deceased. 

No one at Salman’s home had heard from him in a while. Worried, they put out a word on social media, tagging Turkish authorities. Soon, Ali Sahin, Turkey’s deputy minister for the European Union, responded.

Sitting in Ankara, Turkey, he immediately contacted the Bulgarian authorities, who then sent out a search team for the two Pakistani men. Ismail, surprisingly, was found alive. He and Salman’s body were sent across the border to Turkey, where they were received by Sahin. Later, both, the deceased and his cousin, took a Turkish aircraft back home to Peshawar in Pakistan.

“Until my brother’s body reached us, Sahin remained in contact with us, regularly updating us,” says Shaukat. “I found out later that he even missed work for three days to accommodate us. He is a good man.”

Sahin, from his office in Turkey, confirmed the story.

He then pointed towards a painting hanging on his wall which shows two hands raised in prayer. Salman’s mother sent this as a gift to him. “I think of her as my mother now,” he tells Geo.tv, with cloudy eyes. “I hope to travel to Peshawar next year to meet my adoptive mother.”

Back in Peshawar, Salman’s grieving mother shares the emotion. “I lost a son and got one in return,” she says. When asked what she will do when Sahin visits Pakistan. “I will buy him a suit and a pair of boots.”

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