More than 30 Pakistanis taken hostage by Somali pirates, face execution if their families fail to raise enough money to pay the ransom, the Foreign Office informed a Senate panel on Tuesday.
A sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior demanded action by the international community against piracy on the high seas.
The Pakistanis were members of the crew onboard four vessels. The pirates have demanded some $20 million in ransom. Special Secretary to the FO Haroon Shaukat said it is difficult to negotiate with the pirates since there is no government in place in Somalia. Ambassador to Egypt Seema Naqvi is monitoring the situation, he said.
Pirates took 17 Pakistanis hostage when they captured their ship originating from the United Arab Emirates on March 27, FO officials informed the committee, while five Pakistanis sailing on a ship from Malaysia were taken prisoner in November, last year. Another two Pakistanis were trapped aboard a hijacked UAE ship in March last year. Senators pledged to raise the issue in the next session on May 2. Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood chaired the meeting
The Senators lambasted embassy officials for failing to assist Pakistanis in foreign prisons. The case of another Pakistani imprisoned in Saudi Arabia has come to light, who is still in jail despite a court verdict in his favour. The Senate panel reiterated its request that Riyadh stay the execution of three Pakistanis on death row till the conclusion of talks for their release.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2011.
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