Tragic Mediterranean Journey: The Harrowing Story Of Babar Ali And His Quest For Survival

Tragic Mediterranean Journey: The Harrowing Story Of Babar Ali And His Quest For Survival
For young Babar Ali, making the perilous journey to Europe via the 'Dunkey' (illegal migrant worker) route was about more than the promise of a better life. It was about survival for him, his young family and managing the responsibilities of his extended family.

Ali, a resident of Tehsil Nowsherwan Virkan - an impoverished region in the heart of Punjab just an hour and a half from Lahore - was aboard the ill-fated vessel. The small tehsil of around half a million people contributed several migrants aboard the boat.

He was among the 209 Pakistanis (181 from the Pakistani mainland and 28 from the Azad Jammu and Kashmir) who were believed to be on board. Witnesses said that between 400 and 750 people were stuffed onto the boat. The boat capsized and sank in the Mediterranean on June 14.

Per the latest figures, the toll currently stands at 82 dead and 104 survivors. Only 12 of the Pakistanis aboard have survived. The rest have been deemed as missing.

Ali is among the missing migrants.

His wife, Anusha, recently detailed the reasons for his risky travel.

Cradling her infant daughter, Anusha said that her husband had a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders.

"He has two orphan nieces. One of his sisters is a widow with a daughter, and we have two daughters of our own," she detailed.

"We paid Rs2 million (around $7000) for the journey," she says.

She says the family sold their home and shifted to rented premises to arrange for the funds.

Asked why her husband chose such a risky journey when there were so many responsibilities at home, Anusha says they have been deceived.

Anusha said that the travel agent responsible for taking Ali to Europe had confirmed to them before departure that all travel would occur via air and through regular airports.

This was how the agent justified the high cost.

However, he tricked them, and ultimately Ali found himself on the unfortunate vessel.

Pakistani agencies are cooperating with Greek authorities to identify bodies. On Thursday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said that they had collected and dispatched samples from some 201 families to the Greek authorities for identifying the victims.

Meanwhile, the authorities say they have arrested 29 people across the country for their alleged involvement in the matter.

On Thursday, the FIA's Anti-Human Trafficking unit said that they had arrested 17 people in Punjab, including two from the provincial capital of Lahore, two from Gujrat, and eight from Gujranwala.

As many as 54 cases have been registered against these suspects.

Earlier, the FIA said that they had offloaded a man attempting to travel to Italy from the Karachi airport on what it claimed was a fake Afghan passport.

The agency said that the visa stamped on his passport was also found to be fake. The suspect said he had obtained the fake passport via an Afghan agent for 5000 Norwegian Krone.