Pakistani hotel employee returns $50,000 in cash left behind by forgetful guest

By Rob Crilly in Islamabad

Published: 10:00PM BST 11 Jul 2010

Essa Khan found the bag of notes stuffed in a safe deposit box while carrying out a routine inspection of a room vacated by a Japanese NGO worker before another guest arrived.

After years of negative publicity from terror strikes and political unrest, politicians have lauded the housekeeper’s honesty as the “real face of Pakistan”.

But Mr Khan told The Daily Telegraph he was simply doing his job.

“I have a responsibility as a human being, as a Pakistani, a Muslim,” he said on Sunday. “I never thought about keeping the money.”

Mr Khan, 50, has worked for the past 20 years at the Gilgit Serena Hotel, which stands amid dramatic scenery at the foot of the Karakoram mountains, in northern Pakistan.

Hotel staff managed to track down the guest, who works for the Japan International Co-operation Agency, and return the money, which was intended to fund a feasibility study into tourism projects in northern Pakistan.

Rashid Uddin, the hotel’s general manager, said the Japanese man, who has not been named, was embarrassed to learn he had lost the cash.

“Even after three days, he had no clue that he had left the money,” Mr Uddin said by telephone from Gilgit.

“He came in the next day, and it was easy to see from the look on his face just how relieved he was.”

The hotel has given Mr Khan a 10,000-rupee (£77) reward for his honesty.

But his general manager said his actions deserved wider recognition.

“In these economic conditions, and in a region of poverty, we should be very, very proud of people like this,” said Mr Uddin.

The story has been taken up by politicians in a country tired of negative publicity. Years of suicide bombings mean tourist hotels have struggled to survive as foreigners stay away.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, declared Mr Khan a “national hero”.

“He’s a humble housekeeper and we are really proud of him,” he said. “This is the face of Pakistan that people don’t see normally.”

He telephoned Mr Khan on Sunday to promise him another reward and to invite him to Lahore for a ceremony in his honour. Source

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  1. We are proud of you Essa Khan Sahib. Of course we are different people!………

  2. Your Associates, your Nation and your community proud of you Essa Bhai!! You did what you learn…BRAVO

  3. This amount comes to Pak rupees ($50,000×85.65 = 4,282,500) and in return, this honest poor man gets Rs. 10,000/- as cash reward. Atleaset he should be offered Pak rupees one hundred thousand by the representative of the Japan International Aid Agency (JICA) and a commendation certificate and a reasonable increment in his monthly salary must be approved by the hotel management, if he’s permanent employee of the hotel.

  4. Essa Khan needs wider recognitation at provincial and national level. Honesty… sense of responsibility are the key values and strength of those societies! deserve our salut. you did demonstarte the key strength of that mountain society and it needs to be inclucated at large.

  5. Essa Khan you have made Pakistan proud of you. Congratulations!!

    But a question; what was JICA representative doing with $50,000 in cash?. Japanese and Pakistan Government & JICA need to investigate this.In these days,JICA does not pay fees etc in cash and that too $50,000.

  6. This is the kind of news that reinforces one’s belief in humanity.Imagine what the world would if such honesty is shown by everyone.Hats off to this great human being.

  7. We are proud of you Mr. Essa Khan sahab . Of course we are different people and different culture in the country, Money is not life, people must learn, well-done nice Job,

  8. It takes a lot of character to return such an amount of money, especially when one’s own economic conditions aren’t comfortable and has to support a family. The mention of the taseers and politicians is funny. The crooks, the thieves living off taxpayers money, stealing money left and right being mentioned in the same article as honest people like Essa Khan. Maybe instead of getting their soundbytes and faces in the media for publicity, these politicians should try to follow the example of honesty displayed by Essa Khan.

  9. Great Job and Hats Off on your Honesty. Essa Khan Saheb, An excellent image of honesty you have shown to those people from last year who had stolen a student’s money and her educational assessts,who is studying abroad and she was visiting her parents last year. This is really a food for thinking to those dishonest people, how they behaved and demonstrated their dishonesty to that student on her return to her University abroad. I would suggest those dishonest people should lick your shoes.

  10. Great job Essa Khan and what made me excited is the comment made by him saying that he was simply doing his job. What a great person. He is ofcourse a great role model in the current circumstance where honesty is a wonder as opposed to corruption!

  11. I would suggest the 10000 rupee is not worthy for him. government and the serena hotel should give a big scholarship to his children to get better education. just praises will not work for him. poverty striken people should be given the oppertunity to grow educationally.


  12. The sincerety of our brother Essa Khan is commendable and we must appreciate the strength of his character. Having said this, he could have made $50,000 or millions in Pak ruppees if he chose to keep that amount for himself. If he would have kept it in secret, it couldn’t be terms as even dishonesty or corruption because it was a kind of treasure hunt for him and he harmed no one, nobody knew about it but himself.

    Praises, recognition and a few bugs, is this a sufficient reward for such an act of honesty? He deserves much more than that!

    Now the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, what a huge price you have been paying for your unflinching honesty and sincerety throughout the ages? How long? Why?

  13. Traveling with $50,000(PKR4,250,000) and forgetting this huge amount in the hotel seems a bit stupid and unreal….why would some one travel with that much cash, its not a joke its a hell amount of money………..we appreciate the honesty of Essa but on the other hand we request the tourists/travelers and foreigners to avoid taking these sort of risks.

    While we encourage the honesty of Mr. Essa Khan we must also discourage these kind of stupid( i would say) traveling.


  14. JICA representative carying US$50,000 in cash looks very shady .This needs to be investigated by JICA,Japanese and Pakistan authorities.Why was he carry such large amount of cash,where did he bring this cash from,did he declare this amount of cash $ to Pakistan authorities, why was he carrying this large amount of cash to Gilgit. Does JICA pay fees in cash $—-I do not think so.
    Please seriously look into this incidence of US $ 50,000 cash.

    And to our honest Pakistani ; you are a God fearing and honest Pakistani.We all are very proud of you.

    “proud to be GILGITI”

    Honesty is hallowed straight road,
    Though dull, tiresome and slow;
    A sure road to reach one’s goal,
    Though fruits come in bits and sweats.

    A hundred roads open to a goal:
    Those fast and smooth, with painless rides;
    Those jump and trip honest race,
    End in unending circuitous pursuits.

    Honesty is like fresh water drops,
    Neither sour nor salt nor bitter nor sweet,
    But, cool and calm, yet, warm, fulsome
    That quenches all thirsts in pure, simple streaks.

    Honesty is lucid path, honesty is confidence.
    The will to earn every bit of gain;
    Honesty is steely pride, honesty is rare passion
    To prove the Self equal to task.

    Honest labour is lush like nectare,
    Honest success is paradise regained,
    A joyous return to natural habitat
    Like visit of fullmoon after weeks of travail.

    Praveen Kumar


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