Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Ali Şahin has been hailed as a hero by the people of Pakistan after he responded to a call by a grieving Pakistani woman who sought his help in tracing her missing son.
Pakistani migrant Salman Khan, who was just 23-years-old, died while en route to Bulgaria late December last year. Şahin had helped Khan's family locate and transfer his body back to Pakistan after receiving a desperate plea from the deceased's mother.
The deputy minister told Anadolu Agency that he had received a plea for help via social media from a Pakistani family on Dec. 28, 2016: "It was a cry for help from a mother in Pakistan's Peshawar city, which is around 4,000 kilometers [2,485 miles] away from Turkey."
Manra, the mother of the deceased Pakistani man, begged him to find and deliver her son to her, whether dead or alive.
"It was the saddest letter I ever got," Şahin said.
After receiving the letter and a photo of the missing Khan, the deputy minister began the necessary steps to trace him. He eventually learned that the young Pakistani man had died under tragic circumstances. "After Salman crossed the Bulgarian border, security forces arrested him and later left him on the Turkish border in the freezing night after taking away his shoes," Şahin recalled.
The young Pakistani migrant had been forced to take shelter out in the open where he later froze to death last Dec. 27, he added. "It is just one out of the many tragedies experienced on the inhumane and cold borders of the West," Şahin said.
Khan's body, which was found along the Turkish-Bulgarian border, was then brought to Turkey by Turkish authorities.
The deputy minister noted that Khan would have been buried at some unknown cemetery had his family not approached Turkey for help.
After an autopsy in Istanbul, Khan's body was sent back home on Dec. 29 via a Turkish Airlines flight to the Pakistani capital Islamabad where he was finally reunited with his mourning family.
Khan's mother was full of gratitude and praise for Şahin, who helped her find closure in this sad tale.
"Allah took Salman from me, but gave me Ali [Şahin] instead," Khan's mother told Şahin over the phone, the deputy minister recalled.
Khan's brother also told the deputy minister that his mother now considered him as her own son.
"We were eight brothers and sisters with Salman, and we are still eight with you," Şahin quoted Khan's brother as telling him.
Şahin later also sent Khan's mother a bouquet of flowers with a card that read: "From your Turkish son."
Ever since Şahin's act of kindness became known, messages of love and support have been pouring out on social media for the deputy minister and Turkey.
One Twitter user wrote to him: "Salute you Sir. Not only the mother of Salman but all the mothers and sisters of Pakistan pray for you."
Another tweeted: "Respected @AliSahin501 Just now I came to know through media about the way U dealt and cared the body of Salman. You R great. I salute U."
The deputy minister said he is now planning to visit Pakistan "as soon as possible" and visit Khan's family and also pay his respects at the cemetery where the young man was eventually laid to rest.
Şahin is a well-known and widely respected figure among the Pakistani community in Turkey and abroad. The deputy minister graduated from Pakistan's Karachi University and speaks the Urdu language.
With regard to young men in the East going to the West for better opportunities, he said it only reflected "a natural drift toward their own wealth that was exploited in Asia, the Middle East and Africa for hundreds of years.
"They are just looking for the freedom, justice, and wealth stolen from them."
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