My Friends are in Prison in Pakistan
by MW Cook
It’s been an interesting time so far. For any of you who do not know what’s going on, I’ll start from the beginning.
I arrived in Pakistan at the beginning of this week, eager to visit my family, in-laws and friends. During the very first night, my dear friends, Nathaniel and Hillary Barnett, were arrested by the Pakistani police.
They had seen that their visa was going to expire a few weeks before their flight out of Pakistan. They sent their applications to to the government just like they had been told. But the application took much longer than they were led to believe and their visa expired while the process was still ongoing. Nate was arrested in the streets near their home in Karachi. Hillary was picked up at my in-laws house in Sanghar as they were busily preparing for a wedding.
They are now in a federal penitentiary.
They have a very good lawyer. His hope is that they can get the government to release them into house arrest until their flight, which is booked for the end of this month.
Why is this happening? To throw people in prison for such a small thing is not common. Some people suggest that the current political is making things worse. Or maybe a few over-zealous police officers or magistrates have made it worse. It’s anyone’s guess. The result is the same.
What can you do? You can do more than you think. I was just thinking of a neat passage uttered by the prophet Isaiah.
“You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.”
I’d like to propose Operation No Rest. The first aspect of it is for those of you who pray. Just like Isaiah told his people to give God no rest until he restored Jerusalem, give your God no rest until he moves and takes his people out of prison.
The second aspect is for those of you who are Canadian citizens. The lawyer has said one of the best things you can do on that side of the ocean is to contact ever MP and government official you can and tell them what’s going on and what you’d like them to do about it. And then to do it again. And again. And again until it becomes clear that the only way you’ll leave them alone is if they get mobilized and get our people out of prison.
What are their conditions like? I was able to see Hillary yesterday. She’s in the women’s section of the prison and has not been able to communicate with her husband at all. Food and clothing are an issue but some friends and I are taking care of that for them both, making deliveries daily. She is strong and in reasonably good spirits. Her only real complaint is that she does not know what is happening to her husband. I hope to be able to see him in a few days.
How are they being treated? Well, actually. The prison officials are kind and know that if Canadian citizens are mistreated there will be a lot of problems for them. They are guarded and protected. Which, to be honest, is a lot more than can be said for many of the others in that prison.
My family and I plan to live in Karachi until this matter is resolved. I’ll be trying to get more information and keep you updated as best as I can. Hopefully daily.
Thanks for the update Matt. I will continue to pray expecting the God of all to move for Nate and Hillary. The Lord bless you, Ruth and the Devraj family as you all pray and act.
Holly and I are praying. Holly asked me the other day if she could call Nate and Hillary her Aunt and Uncle. I said they would probably like that. When they come home,she can ask them herself.
Just prayed that the Lord would undertake for Nathaneal and Hilary, that He would grant them peace and release them very soon in His will. Meanwhile we pray that they might have opportunities to witness for Him there in the prison. Like Joseph, it may be that the Lord wants to use them there while they are captive to show the love and peace He gives to His people in distressful situations. It is good to hear of all your hard work to provide for their needs.
In Christ, Terry and Ray Barham
thanks for the update matt. i have sent my first email to my mp and will continue to do so until action has been taken.
I will be praying most definitely about this whole situation and that it will be resolved in quick order.Taken it to the Throne of grace and with God ALL things are possible.
In Christ Jesus,Ruth
Our God is bigger than this. I pray for His holy and perfect will in this situation. Also, I pray that Nathaniel and Hillary will remember their Redeemer is on the throne and is in control. Bless you as you minister to them.
I will call my MP. But what should I tell him to do about it? What can an MP do? Thanks.
LW, there’s an email that Hillary’s sister prepared. All you have to do is change the names and email it to your MP. Here’s the site to find their address. http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseofCommons/MemberByPostalCode.aspx?Menu=HOC
You can also email the Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird. His address is on there too.
Matt, if you don’t have a copy to send LW, email me their address (or vice versa) and I can forward Jessica’s letter.
can u please email me a copy of Jessica’s letter too
We are praying (my family and I along with my Church family)!
Sent a letter to my local MP and will keep praying for Hillary and Nate!
We are praying for Nate and Hillary. Will write to my mp. Pati and Ford
We are praying and will continue to as a Church.
Mary Jane Robinson
Praying for this situation. And I’ll send a letter to our MP tomorrow.
Mary Jane R.
Thanks for the update. Prayers are comming from Holland too. Piebe
Could I have a copy of Jessica’s letter sent to firstname.lastname@example.org please & thanks.
Update about letters to MPs: “We no longer require the MP letters to be sent as the case is in court, and the Consulate officers are involved. If you have heard back from your MP, please send a thank you note, as the family is very pleased with the Government’s involvement.” -Jessica Little (Hillary’s sister)
I hope that they get released soon, but their is no excuse for them to be there without valid visa, who ever has written this post has just one idiotic point to prove that Pakistanis are cruel, dont be insane , why dont u people forget what these foreigners have done in Pakistan, what happens when some Pakistani arrives at American airport, what did Raymond Davis do and there were many more like them, and if any innocent is arrested for an illegal VISA what do u people expect for that person in any other country, so kindly try to think by keeping ground reality in mind
Asad, I fear that you don’t have enough information to make these snap judgements. Nate and Hillary applied for a visa extension one month before their visa expired and the immigration office told them that they would be allowed to stay in the country until the application process was finished.
I have never tried to prove that Pakistanis are cruel or tried to make Pakistan look bad. If you had read any of my other posts about Pakistan you would know that I have nothing but love for this country. I married a Pakistani and want nothing more than to live here for the rest of my life.
My problem with this situation is that they were arrested while their visa application was still being processed and, instead of fined like every other person whose visa expires, they were put into prison. I am not advocating special treatment for them.
Asad, you and your fellow countrymen should be far more concerned about the *real* terrorists in your midst than a harmless couple who did everything by the book, yet because of the incompetence and inefficiencies of Pak government agencies suffered a very unfair consequence! I know many, many foreigners in the same boat…waiting month after month after month for visa approvals and processing. One month is promised, yet it is never fulfilled…my company has waited more than six months for a simple response on many occasions, much less a decision! One shouldn’t blame the applicant, in this case foreigners, for the laziness and ineptitude of the concerned agency! If you seek an extension earlier than one month before expiration, the MOI will tell you to come back later. If you apply one month before, then they won’t complete your paperwork in time to avoid the overstay. Catch 22! Foreigners have overstayed FOR YEARS because of these inefficiencies — ironically, they humbly pay the overstay fines even though it is 100% the fault of the inefficient gov’t offices and officials! .
Unfortunately, many of you refuse to even acknowledge “the enemy within”. Instead, the same old tired and worn out conspiracies and lies circulate somehow putting blame on “hidden hands” (used to be India, now it’s America, Israel, or some other “Martian”…) for recruiting and deploying 14 year old Pashtun, Punjabi and other PAKISTANI kids to blow themselves up for Allah! The lack of introspection, intellectual honesty and soul-searching over the years has cost Pakistan dearly. It’s so sad to see so many continually living in denial when the evidence stares one right in the face.
Please don’t assume I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life investing in and building a life and business in your country. I speak a local language fluently, understand another mostly and have learned a whole lot about your people, culture, religion and history. I count dozens of Pakistanis as my friends and have acquaintances from all levels of society. I invested almost 2 million dollars over a 9 year period and employed hundreds of Pakistanis — at our peak 50+ at a time. Yet, the BOI / MOI wouldn’t even grant a work visa to my expatriate Managing Director, who was also a 50% owner in the local company! No wonder the foreign direct investment has declined from 5.5 billion in 2008, to 3.5 billion in 2009, 2 billion in 2010 and 1.5 billion in 2010.
I remember how almost all my Pakistani friends thought the Taliban were a “good” thing for Afghanistan, though ALL my Afghan friends despised them entirely. I remember how most Pakistanis denied 9/11 even occurred or, if so, that somehow it was all “staged” for nefarious reasons – which I found amazing that Pakistanis actually thought themselves so *self-important* that America would kill 3000 of its own innocent citizens in order to have an “excuse” to go to war. Maybe you are one of those “conspiracy theorists”?
I recall how most Pakistanis denied the Taliban existed inside Pakistan. This went on year after year with bomb after bomb, suicide after suicide, until it finally reached the larger cities and settled areas. Swat was lost to militants due to this denial, even at the national gov’t level. The entire tourism industry of that beautiful area that I used to visit yearly is now totally destroyed.
The list could go on and on and on. I read the newspapers, I talk to people, I see the delusional and biased news channels, though I now no longer live here and simply visit 3-4 times a year on business. Though I used to employee 50+ locals, I now have a skeleton staff of 10 and I am unable to place any expatriate staff in country because the gov’t is more concerned about Americans than they are religious extremists and militants.
I hope you and your fellow countrymen will wake up to reality and pull your collective heads out of the sand. Pakistan is becoming the despised of the world due to this delusional thinking and self-denial. Your neighbors despise you — Afghans worse than even Indians. The rest of the world doesn’t trust you or believe your intentions. The Chinese may come across as friends, but only as long as it suits them. The Chinese are very pragmatic and economically driven — don’t think they won’t look to their own interests in a heartbeat.
In conclusion, I hope and pray that this couple is soon released and that the Canadian gov’t shames Pakistan for this injustice.
Thanks for your viewpoint, it`s really helped me process some of the things I was thinking about during my three weeks in Karachi Central Jail.
Sure, no problem. I just traveled to Pak last week. The atmosphere has truly changed.
Glad you guys got your situation rectified.
“The prison officials are kind and know that if Canadian citizens are mistreated there will be a lot of problems for them.” problems like what? The ‘wrath’ of the Canadian government? Do you think Westerners are placed in ‘first class section’ of the prison while locals are in the regular sections? You forget that Pakistanis were treated much worse in 2003 by RCMP officials due to visa restrictions.
I’m not happy about this, but the law is the law. People in Western countries also get arrested for expired visas all the time, what gives Westerners the impression that they can do it worldwide?