THE close-knit community of Clitheroe has been left shocked and stunned by the tragic death of a family-of-four killed in a horrific car crash in Pakistan.
Clitheroe man Mr Ali Akbar Khan (59), was driving when the family’s car ploughed into a parked truck near Faisalabad in the Punjab province.
Also travelling with Mr Khan, who worked at Castle Cement for 30 years, were his wife, Riffit Rukhsana, daughters Aisha (eight), two-year-old Hajira and his son, Qasim (seven). Aisha, who is a former pupil of Brookside Primary School, was pulled out alive from the wreckage of the crash, but died later in hospital.
Qasim was the sole survivor of the accident, but is now embroiled in a custody battle with his maternal family in Pakistan.
The smash happened in the New Year and Mr Khan’s son from his first marriage, Abid Ali, immediately flew out to Pakistan upon hearing the devastating news. He remains in Pakistan fighting to win custody of Qasim.
Speaking about the family’s ordeal, Clitheroe resident and close family friend Mr Asif Din said: “It’s a big tragedy and the close-knit Asian community in Clitheroe is devastated.
“Mr Khan was a very well-loved, respected and honest gentleman. He was a hard worker and worked most of his life, alongside my father, at Castle Cement.
“He also ran a newsagents in Waterloo Road until 2000 and still owns a house in Mearley Syke, Clitheroe.
“He was a very kind and generous man and was like a father to me when my father passed away in 2004.”
He added: “When we heard the news we were shocked and couldn’t believe what we were hearing. Abid, who works as a chef in Romero, Wellgate, flew out to Pakistan on New Year’s Day arriving in time for the burials. I flew out on the 2nd.
“Mr Khan was enjoying a long trip in Pakistan after his retirement. On New Year he was travelling to Faisalabad to sign documents for a property that he had just sold when his car hit the parked truck. It is a big tragedy that he and his family were killed.”
Mr Din, who lives on Taylor Street, explained that he now is worried for the safety of Qasim and his friend, Abid, who he wants home safe and well.
“Abid is fighting for his brother, Qasim’s custody, but he is facing problems because his step-mother’s step-brothers want Qasim to remain in Pakistan.
“They are now having to take the case through the courts. The relatives in Pakistan don’t seem to understand what Qasim has been through and the psychological effect the whole incident is having on him.”
Also saddened by the news is Mrs Beverley Allan, headteacher of Brookside Primary School. On behalf of the teachers and pupils, she said: “We were all deeply saddened to hear of the tragic accident.
“Our thoughts go out to the family at this sad time and at Brookside we will remember Aisha as the lovely, happy girl that she was.”