Separated by the Ocean

“It was such a shock, I couldn’t believe it why and what has he done, I didn’t know how to accept, how to react to that.”

It was a hard reality for Uncle Ashfaq to take, but as eight years passed with Babar held without trial in prison, the reality gradually dawned on him that the fate of extradition drew closer. In October 2012, after a prolonged legal battle, Babar was extradited, the start of two years spent in solitary confinement in a US Supermax prison.

“It was such a shock, I couldn’t believe it why and what has he done, I didn’t know how to accept, how to react to that.”

Communication was limited, as calls to the US were very expensive and restricted for prisoners; the costs of visiting even more prohibitive. Eventually Uncle Ashfaq and his wife, made a trip to the U.S to visit Babar. It was a shock for him to see his son, in such a way.

“We went to see Babar over there. It was very difficult…but we had got used to seeing him in a prison cell and as I said that the worst thing was that we chatted with him for an hour or so and when the visit was over and when he went back to his cell and we came home, that was very difficult.”

The difficulties continued as Uncle Ashfaq when in America, had an accident, this lead to him having to undergo a serious operation for his brain. This caused great grief and anxiety to both Babar and Ashfaq, in fears of permanent separation too soon. Being in an alien country, far from home, away from his elderly unwell father, Ashfaq became tearful as he painfully recalled how difficult it was for his son.

Babar just wanted to come home because he didn’t know if I would still be alive.  He always said that I prayed to Allah that I come back and see my Dad and Mum alive and well, thank God…”

Relief After Hardship

Ashfaq reminisced, “Every man that is sitting in jail, if he gets even just one word of love, it would be enough. So many people have supported us whilst we went through that time. It’s nice to know people are supporting you and even when walking on the street people would approach and say are you Babar’s father and our duas are with you. These small things that happen – you can’t imagine he is sitting in prison, and a few loving words meant a lot to him.

Uncle Ashfaq’s wife, as a result, was always hopeful for her son’s safe return, with the support and prayers of HHUGS and others in the community behind her.

“We were very, very grateful to Allah that in the end it all happened that Babar came home. We had hope all the time, we had hope and as Muslims we must have hope and never give up hope that he will be back.”

Since Babar returned, he says, people remark that he and his wife have a “different look”, that the relief is visible on their faces.“It’s understandable,” he says, “how much do you love your children…”

Uncle Ashfaq urges others, “not to give up hope. As Muslims, we hope that Allah will help, but at the same time you should be strong and strive, no point crying in your bed asking why this happened. You should strive and see what you can do.” With many prisoners and their families still in the same situation, he reminds that HHUGS still needs your help to continue to support so many families out there.

“Whether £1 or 10p, support HHUGS for their work, for the sake of other prisoners, and for other people who are under stress. HHUGS are doing good work for them and with your help they will keep doing it.  I am an example in front of you. Over the years, support from HHUGS…if it was not there then it would have been more difficult. Whatever they did for us and what they are doing for other people, they need your help. With your help, they can help many other people.”

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