Mamoor Khan’s family members had been eagerly awaiting his homecoming to the northern Pakistan town of Mir Ali. But days before the planned reunion, his body arrived from the UAE, leaving relatives numbed by shock and grief.
Khan and two Indian nationals were killed when drone and missile strikes launched by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen hit fuel trucks near storage facilities of state oil giant ADNOC in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 17. Khan had been working as a driver for an ADNOC contractor.
“We were preparing for his homecoming,” Khan’s younger brother, Manzoor Ahmad, told Arab News. “But we received his dead body instead.”
Khan, 49, is survived by his parents, wife, and eight children, who were looking forward to his return for a vacation at the end of this month.
His second brother, Javed Khan, also a driver in the UAE, was the first to learn about his death. An ADNOC employee had called him to say he had suffered injuries in the attack and was in hospital in Abu Dhabi.
“I still didn’t know what had happened, but the site where my brother was working was on fire,” he said. “I asked the caller to tell me clearly if my brother had died. The caller replied in a choked voice, ‘yes,’ and that his dead body was in the hospital.”
Khan was the main support of his family in North Waziristan, an impoverished tribal district on the Pakistan-Afghan border, where years of militancy and security operations have thwarted social and economic development.
A week after Khan’s funeral, his father, who sent him to the UAE more than two decades ago to find a better life, told Arab News he was still struggling to talk about the loss of his son.
“I felt like I was stepping over raging fire when I received the news about my son’s death,” he said.
Khan’s mother has been on tranquilizers since receiving the tragic news.
“At home, we have suffered a lot due to militancy, and when Mamoor left for the UAE, we were sure that he would enjoy a safe life there,” his neighbor and friend Munawar Shah Dawar said. “His death has left us devastated, as he fell prey to a terrorist attack there too.”
Yasir Ahmad, Khan’s eldest son, said he and his father had many plans for the family’s future and would often discuss them over the phone. One of those plans, to set up a small business, was to have been put into action during Khan’s home visit this month. The idea was that the business would have later allowed him to return to Mir Ali for good.
One of Khan’s priorities had been to ensure his younger children received an education, something he had asked Ahmad to oversee.
“My father wanted my younger brother to become a doctor, so that he could come back and spend the rest of his life with us.
“We’ve nothing left now, and even the education of my brothers will suffer because I’m a daily wage laborer, earning 600 rupees ($3.40) a day, which isn’t enough.”
Khan’s body was repatriated to Pakistan and buried on Jan. 20.
Mustafa Haider, director general of the welfare division at the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, told Arab News that death benefits would be paid to the family and the foundation was also considering financial support from its own funds.