Pakistani sailors’ families welcome release by pirates


Islamabad : The families of the Pakistani sailors who were released by Somali pirates after having been kept hostage for about 10 months have welcomed the end of their painful ordeal, saying they had been “in pain and stress” since their capture.

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Captain Syed Wasi Hasan, Muzzamil, Mohammed Alam and Ali Rehman were the four Pakistanis among the 22 crew members of MV Suez, an Egyptian cargo vessel that was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden Aug 2, 2010.

The hostages – besides the Pakistanis – included six Indians, 11 Egyptians and one Sri Lankan.

Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney played an important role in the release of the hostages. The government and the Ansar Burney Welfare Trust paid a ransom of $2.1 million to the pirates, a trust spokesman told Dawn News.

President Asif Ali Zardari congratulated the people behind their release including the relatives of the freed Pakistanis, Burney and Citizen-Police Liaison Committee’s Ahmad Chinoy.

Wasi Hasan, one of the hostages, told Geo News that his captives had threatened to kill him. He thanked the nation and the media and showered special praise on Burney for the role they played in securing the sailors’ release.

Hasan, who said his captors fed him only rice and spaghetti during the entire ordeal, also spoke to his wife and children.

He said he could not wait to meet his family and told his wife to look after their children. Hasan also spoke to his daughter Laila and asked her not to shed any tears as they would be united soon.

Naila Alam, the daughter of Mohammad Alam, engineer of the hijacked ship, said the family believed the news of the release only when they talked to her father.

“We have been in pain and stress since August last year. But the pressure eased in seconds when Abbu told us over phone that he has been freed,” she was quoted as saying.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain said by securing the release of the Indian hostages along with the Pakistanis, the country had proved that it believes in human values and did not pursue a policy of hatred.

He urged India to reciprocate the gesture by promoting goodwill and amity with Pakistan.

He reiterated that the release of Indian hostages was a gesture of goodwill from Pakistan and it was up to the Indian leadership to adopt the path of friendship.

Hussain said Pakistan did not believe in terrorism, but that “rotten eggs could be found anywhere”. Maligning the entire nation for such elements was not justified, he said.