Pakistani migrant Salman Khan, who was just 23-years-old, died while en route to Bulgaria late December last year. Sahin had helped Khan’s family locate and transfer his body back to Pakistan after receiving a desperate plea from the deceased’s mother.
The deputy minister recalled to Anadolu Agency how he had received a plea for help via social media from a Pakistani family on Dec. 28, 2016.
"It was a cry for help from a mother in Pakistan's Peshawar city, which is around 4,000 kilometers [2,485 miles] away from Turkey," Sahin said.
Manra, the mother of the deceased Pakistani man, begged him to find and deliver her son to her, whether dead or alive.
"It was the saddest letter I ever got," Sahin said.
After receiving the letter and a photo of the missing Khan, the deputy minister began necessary steps to trace him. He eventually learnt that the young Pakistani man had died under tragic circumstances.
"After Salman crossed the Bulgarian border, security forces arrested him, and later left him on the Turkish border in the freezing night after taking away his shoes," Sahin recalled.
The young Pakistani migrant had been forced to take shelter out in the open, where he later froze to death on Dec. 27, he added.
"It is just one out of the many tragedies experienced on the inhumane and cold borders of the West," Sahin said.
Khan's body, which had been found along the Turkish-Bulgarian border, was then brought to Turkey by Turkish authorities.
The deputy minister noted that Khan would have been buried at some unknown cemetery had his family not approached Turkey for help.
After an autopsy in Istanbul, Khan’s body was sent back home on Dec. 29 via a Turkish Airlines flight to the Pakistani capital Islamabad, where he was finally reunited with his mourning family.
Khan’s mother was full of gratitude and praise for Sahin, who helped her find closure in this sad tale.
“Allah took Salman from me, but gave me Ali [Sahin] instead," Khan’s mother told Sahin over the phone, the deputy minister recalled.
Khan's brother also told the deputy minister that his mother now considered him as her own son.
"We were eight brothers and sisters with Salman, and we are still eight with you," Sahin quoted Khan’s brother as telling him.
Sahin later also sent Khan’s mother a bouquet of flowers with a card that read: "From your Turkish son."
Ever since word about Sahin’s act of kindness got known, messages of love and support have been pouring out on social media for the deputy minister and Turkey.
One Twitter user wrote to him: "Salute you Sir. Not only the mother of Salman but all the mothers and sisters of Pakistan pray for you."
Another tweeted: "Respected @AliSahin501 Just now I came to know through media about the way U dealt & cared the body of Salman. You R great. I salute U."
The deputy minister said he was now planning to visit Pakistan "as soon as possible" and visit Khan’s family, and also pay his respects at the cemetery where the young man was eventually laid to rest.
Sahin is a well-known figure and widely respected among the Pakistani community in Turkey and abroad. The deputy minister had graduated from Pakistan's Karachi University and also speaks the language Urdu.
About young men in the East going to the West for better opportunities, Sahin said it only reflected "a natural drift towards their own wealth which was exploited in Asia, Middle East, and Africa for hundreds of years.
"They are just looking for the freedom, justice, and wealth stolen from them."