Four Pakistanis among 22 set free by Somali pirates
KARACHI: Four Pakistani and six Indian seamen and 12 other hostages have been released by Somali pirates after payment of $2.1 million ransom.
Besides Capt Syed Wasi Hasan, Muzzamil, Mohammed Alam and Ali Rehman of Pakistan and six Indians, 11 Egyptians and a Sri Lankan citizen have been freed, a spokesperson for the Sindh Governor’s House and an NGO official said in a statement issued here on Monday.
President Asif Ali Zardari called relatives of the freed Pakistanis, Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, human rights activist Ansar Burney and Citizen-Police Liaison Committee’s Ahmad Chinoy at a special gathering held at Governor’s House and said he would stand by every Pakistani in his hour of need.
Speaking by phone on the occasion, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s founder Altaf Hussain said by securing release of Indian hostages along with Pakistani citizens Pakistani organisations had proved that Pakistan believed 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.
Mr Hussain said the governor; the Ansar Burney Welfare Trust and the CPLC had worked tirelessly to get the hostages released.
When Indian philanthropists backed out at the last moment, the governor mobilised resources for the release of all the hostages and proved that “we believe in humanity”, he said.
He said 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, instead of acrimony.
Mr Hussain said Pakistan did not believe in terrorism but ‘rotten eggs could be found anywhere’. He said maligning the entire nation for such elements was not justified.
He called upon leaders of both the countries to demonstrate by their action that they believed in peace and prosperity of the region.
He thanked President Zardari for facilitating the release of the hostages and offered special thanks to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Shuja Pasha and philanthropists.
On a point raised by Mr Burney, the MQM chief appealed to the Indian prime minister to release the 81-year-old handicapped Prof Chishti of Karachi University who is languishing in a prison in India.
The Sindh governor said the hostages would return home soon. He also thanked the Foreign Office and donors for making the release possible.
The governor also talked to the wife of an Indian hostage.
Imran Ayub adds: Naila Alam, of the four children of Mohammad Alam, third engineer of the hijacked ship, said members of the family believed the news of the release only when they talked to their only bread-earner.
“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 said.
Mr Alam of Zaman Town in Korangi was among four Pakistani crew members of the ship hijacked by Somali pirates. His daughter said her teenaged, handicapped brother had been the worst sufferer.