Some incidents, while highly traumatizing for the victim, make the readers laugh. To be honest, when I read this story in the BBC Urdu online edition, I went through both fits of laughter and trauma at the same time.
The story is about some poor souls who were kidnapped by crude robbers in Ghotki and Sadiqabad. In a recently reported event, a man named Fazal Khan of Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was kidnapped when he traveled all the way to Sadiqabad to meet his telephone girlfriend. One fine day, Khan received a call from what he thought was a woman, and in his innocence (or not so much for that matter), he started talking to ‘her’. The daily conversations turned into friendship, which later turned into a marriage proposal.
In the hopes of finding a beautiful Punjabi wife, Fazal Khan embarked on the journey towards Sadiqabad. On the bus, he talked to his wife to be who gave him the exact location where he would find her brother. Fazal Khan was both excited and nervous; his intuition told him to turn around, but his hopes of getting a wife who would look after him for the rest of his life made him go on. Once he reached the destination, he was received by the wife-to-be’s brother. The brother escorted him towards his dream girl’s home, but the dream girl turned out to be a man who talked to Fazal Khan through voice-changing software, and the brother turned out to be a kidnapper. Khan’s dream turned into a nightmare when his hands and feet were tied up and he was asked to call his family for ransom money with a gun pointed at his head.
This story is not only about poor Fazal Khan. Many others have been lured into this trap and held for ransom in Pakistan. The scam has been running widely in Punjab, but Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also reported some cases of this sort. While Fazal Khan’s kidnappers were caught by the police, many others have gone unharmed and unaccounted for as those who were kidnapped failed to reach out to the police out of embarrassment. If one thinks from their perspective, it is highly embarrassing to be caught in such a honey trap and be dumb enough to go marry someone they have never met or know personally or through contacts. Still, they should report it to the police to prevent other people from getting themselves into such situations.
The kidnappers must be appreciated, as they found an extremely interesting way to lure men into such traps. The frustration in the country is rampant, and easy access to mobile phone has led to people making such poor decisions. While many use their mobile phones to learn new things, many others find such connections and develop relationships of this sort. The real problem here is a lack of awareness, education, and, in this case, common sense that leads people into such traps.
The traps are not limited to using a woman’s voice and the proposal of marriage, many go to buy cheap vehicles or mobile phones. Poor people with a lack of a basic understanding of how scams work are defrauded and kidnapped. The internet and mobile phones are becoming increasingly unsafe for anyone who is unaware.
While poor Fazal Khan’s story might sound amusing, it shows how people can be easily trapped and robbed. The police must tighten security, and the media should create awareness through television, radio, and caller tune campaigns so that others, in the future, steer clear of any such tactics. Moreover, men should not fall for any such trap, no matter how desperately they want to tie the knot.