KARACHI: In the realm of those who have chosen love over all odds, there exists a unique story that has transcended boundaries and society’s expectations.
This is the story of Muhammad Bilal, who claimed that he was born in Karachi to Afghan immigrant parents and fell in love with Rabia, a resident of Punjab’s DG Khan district.
Bilal’s journey began with many challenges, mainly due to not having an official identity document in Pakistan, which posed a major hurdle in his education and personal life.
However, Karachi, the city where he was born in 1988, not only provided him livelihood but also the love he craved.
Rabia, who belonged to DG Khan who lived in the same area, often passed Bilal’s route and was captivated by his charm. An unexpected bond begins to blossom, leading to a decision neither of them ever expected.
Bilal recalls: “We met casually, and I liked her immediately. I asked my parents to consider the relationship. They agreed, but my brothers said that if I married a Pakistani girl, If I do, there will be no connection left with us or our motherland.”
Undeterred by these feelings, Bilal’s brother moved to Afghanistan, and he set up home with Rabia in Karachi. Surprisingly, Rabia’s family had no objection to this union, whereas Bilal’s family had mixed reactions.
“When Bilal’s proposal came, my parents asked for my consent. I told them I liked him,” says Rabia, smiling. Her father became irritated at her reaction and quipped, “So this is the only boy you like?”
Responding to her father, Rabia says, “I have answered your question.” Their unique love story is a testament to the power of love that transcends geographical boundaries.
fifteen years of unbreakable love
After 15 years of marriage, Bilal’s unwavering commitment to the relationship is a testament to his character. He has consistently shown the same love and care towards Rabia, his widowed mother-in-law and his divorced sister-in-law as he does towards his own family.
However, Rabia and her family continue to live in worry following the government’s crackdown on Afghan civilians. Rabia’s voice, now tinged with reflection, echoes with concern.
Rabia narrated her efforts to obtain a National Identity Card (NIC) for her husband Bilal, but despite running from door to door, to no avail.
He shared the unfortunate experience of a lawyer who demanded a significant amount but failed to settle the case. Nevertheless, Bilal remained determined to pursue the legal route to obtain an identity card.
Bilal said, “I heard about the Peshawar High Court’s directive to grant identity cards to Afghan citizens who marry Pakistani citizens. I joined the struggle in the light of this historic decision. Unfortunately, it did not yield results. I “Regret not taking it.” Earlier the matter was more serious. I was unaware that lack of identity card in Pakistan could lead to separation from our families. My roots are in this country, and I have a deep love for it. Regardless of legal decisions, our financial commitments remain with Pakistan, and even if we are deported, our motherland will remain Pakistan.”
Their lives have been badly affected by the government’s ongoing crackdown against illegal immigrants. Bilal has not gone to work for the last fifteen days and his circumstances have become quite challenging.
Even amid these challenging times, Bilal shared that his workplace provides him with immense respect and understanding. Even without proper identification, they have allowed him to keep his job. He said that, since the government has announced the repatriation of foreign nationals staying illegally, their employers are encouraging those with valid identity cards to return.
fear of separation
Bilal is reluctant to leave his home out of fear that if he is forcibly deported, his wife and children might have to search for him.
Rabia and Bilal, parents of five children, are extremely worried about the future of their family. The problem lies in the fact that if Bilal returns to Afghanistan, his brothers will not accept him, and if he remains in Pakistan, it will face its own difficulties.
Rabia stressed, “In the fifteen years of our marriage, my husband’s brothers have not accepted us. They even threatened us and said that if you return, we will harm you. I am worried for my husband because he is the They are my only support. As for me, why should I go anywhere? I am a Pakistani. They are not my people, and neither is Afghanistan my motherland.”
Despite their challenging circumstances, the couple have appealed to the government to reconsider its policy on migrants, highlighting the plight of people caught in the crossfire of circumstances beyond their control.