The besieged Pakistani couple in Syria, Muhammad Akram and his wife Sughran Bibi have safely been evacuated through the Wafidin Corridor and are on their way home to Pakistan, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to Pakistan Today’s Usman A Khan Tahir, who broke the story on December 20, 2017, “Muhammad Akram and his wife Sughran Bibi, who were stuck in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta for almost seven years, have been evacuated by the Syrian Red Crescent.”
The news also got a mention by the famous American standup Comedian Jeremy McLellan in a Facebook post on Thursday. He said, “Several months ago my friend Usman A Khan Tahir, a journalist with Pakistan Today, told me of a Pakistani couple who were trapped in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, for 7 years and facing certain death. They had been unable to contact the Pakistani embassy.”He went on to say, “So I posted about it on this page, which, thanks to you, went viral and caught the attention of a woman whose father is a former ambassador and foreign secretary. She immediately contacted him and they began working to get them out.”
“Well, my friends, today, Muhammad Akram and Sughran Bibi have been safely evacuated through the Wafidin Corridor and are on their way home to Pakistan,” McLellan said.
“I have no words to describe how I feel, but I am immensely thankful to all of you who made this happen. There are countless souls still trapped in Ghouta, but I am proud that we were able to play a small role in getting this couple to safety. God bless Pakistan, Free Syria, and Muhammad and Sughran,” he concluded.
However, Akram had to leave his two sons, three daughters and 12 grandchildren behind, he told AFP in the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma before leaving.
“I hope God protects them,” said Akram, who wore a warm hat and sported a trimmed white beard. “I don’t want anything else.”
Earlier in December, Pakistan Today contacted the Pakistani couple, who called for help from their government to rescue them from the besieged area—which is only a few kilometres away from the embassy.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal had said: “We came across a news story about an old Pakistani couple in Damascus trying to take refuge in the embassy of Pakistan in Syria,” he said. “We contacted Fazal Akram on December 26, who informed that he belonged to Gujrat district of Punjab province and has been living in Eastern Ghouta since 1988 with his Pakistani wife since arriving in the country in 1975.”
However, it is important to highlight that during their talk with Pakistan Today, Akram said that they had attempted to contact the embassy and the government repeatedly over the years.
Eastern Ghouta has been under siege by regime forces since 2013, with residents facing severe food and medical shortages even before the latest assault.
The Russian announcement fell far short of a full 30-day ceasefire voted for by the United Nations Security Council that has yet to be implemented.
Dozens of trucks loaded with relief supplies have been unable to enter the enclave.