Sukkur!

Hi babies.  Here I am, in Sukkur, northern Sindh.  I’m en route to Jacobabad to have a look at some houses we built last year after the 2010 floods.  Sukkur is reknowned the world over for it’s amazing dates.  Did you know that?  I didn’t.  But then, I’m not up on my dates.

I had a pretty amazing date myself tonight, with my security man.  Woop woop!

I took off this afternoon from Islamabad, on Pakistan International Airlines, a short stop in Lahore, which I didn’t really even get a glance at.  Although I did notice that they had nicely maintained verges to their apron at the airport.

A nice man got on the plane in Lahore and sat beside me for the journey to Sukkur.  He’s an Electrical Engineer, but he now owns his own Fertiliser company.  He’s a Hindu man from Sukkur, and got his start working for a public / private fertiliser company many years ago.  He then went to work in Saudi for a company that produced… I forget, but eventually he decided he wanted to be near his family, so he returned to Sukkur and set up his own fertiliser company.  He now has a plant that if it explodes will kill everybody within a 7km radius… So that’s nice to know.  He was very interesting though.

There was a story in the Peshawar edition of the Daily Times about Rinkle Kumari.  Most of the following is taken almost word for word from the article:
Rinkle is a 19 year old Hindu woman from Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district of Sindh.  According to the article, Rinkle got kidnapped last week from her family home where she lived with her parents.  It seems that Mian Aslam, the son of a Member of the National Assembly (MNA), had designs on lovely Rinkle.  So he – allegedly – kidnapped her, using his friend, Naveed Shah, for help!  The story goes that she was forced to convert to Islam and then press ganged to marry the clearly eligible and debonair Mr. Aslam!  Lucky girl.  Her father is a teacher at the Government Primary School, and had reported the case to the Mirpur Mathelo Police Station, who didn’t seem to think that the case was worthy of registering a criminal incident or pursuing.  They finally lodged a registration after Rinkle’s family protested, one would imagine quite loudly!  The police produced the girl and Naveed Shah before Magistrate Hassan Ali Kalwar.  According to the newspaper, Rinkle denied wanting to convert to Islam, and said that she wanted to live with her parents… for some reason the court decided to send her to Darul Aman, a sort of womens’ refuge for destitute and troubled women.  I’m not sure if it would be fair to equate it to a Magdalene Laundry, but it sounds kind of like one.  Maybe without the forced work element.  The allegeed co-abductor, Naveed Shah, got a one-day remand!  One day, for goodness sake!
It should be highlighted that according to Rinkle’s father, the Mirpur Mathelo police is under the influence of the Members National Assembly, the Magistrate handed over the girl to her “new husband’s” family without waiting for Rinkle’s parents to appear in court.
Outside the courtroom, Rinkle’s family were prevented from having access to her as there were a large number of armed men supporting the influential party.  Nand Lal, Rinkle’s father, claimed that they were threatened with physical harm if they protested.  They have now moved their protest to Lahore, where the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has condemned the kidnapping and alleged forced conversion of Rinkal.  Apparently the court’s judgement said “The girl is saying that I want to go to my home.  After marriage, her husband’s home is her home.  And I am allowing her to live with her husband”

So, my companion on the plane told me that this is not uncommon.  Apparently quite a number of Hindu women get acquired and relocated according to the whim of some bloke!

Sukkur Airport is small but neat and tidy and organised.  It just looks like it is taken care of.  There was one conveyor belt for luggage in the baggage hall.

Coming out of arrivals, I was met by a man with a welcome sign for me.  You have to go to a little desk, like a passport check desk, but it’s weird, cos it’s outside and virtually in the carpark.  So you go there, they take your details, name, rank, serial number, phone number etc. etc.

Then we travelled a short distance in a car to the Step Inn guesthouse / hotel where I am now.  It was dark when I landed in Sukkur, so I couldn’t see very much, but it seems to have a lot of trees, not even taking into account the massive date plantations which are all around Sukkur.  There is a famous bridge here which I’ll post a picture of.  The town of Sukkur is sited on the Indus River and has an ancient tradition with a lot of historical buildings.  It is somewhere that I really want to explore, if I’m fortunate, Inshallah, I’ll have some time here on Sunday afternoon before I fly out.
The security man explained to me that as it is a long journey to Jacobabad, about 2 hours by road, we wouldn’t do that trip till the morning, in daylight.  They are nervous about kidnappings.  Apparently there have been 2 kidnappings in Sukkur in the past fortnight.  These have been of date traders.  One date trader paid a million Pakistani Rupees for his freedom.  The other is still incarcerated somewhere.  Another 4 or 5 people are also still locked up somewhere.  It seems that in Sukkur most of the kidnapping is for ransoms and has nothing to do with political activities.

The security man had tea with me at the guesthouse and we talked about the plan for tomorrow.  I really want to see this town where a few of the houses got damaged last year by the Monsoon rains, but security is concerned about taking me there.  I think it is on the border of Balochistan Province, and there is a lot of turmoil there.  Well, we’ll have that argument tomorrow.
We had a good conversation about Sindh vs. Punjab, politics, poverty and religion!  Hahahahha, just what you want to chat about with somebody you’ve never met, and who is responsible for your welfare.  Anyway, it was fun.

I’m looking forward to the adventures that tomorrow will bring!  Chat tomorrow guys.

All the best,

Shona

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