KARACHI: Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad Khan announced on Tuesday that the money required for the release of the seven Pakistanis being held hostage by Somali pirates had been collected.
Speaking at a press conference at the Governor’s House, he said that a sum of Rs160 million was collected through generous contribution by the Bahria Town CEO Malik Riaz, families of the captives and other donations.
President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly asked Riaz to assist in the release of the Pakistanis who were part of the 22-member crew of the Malaysian-flagged MV Albedo which was captured by pirates in November 2010. The crew also includes seven Bangladeshis, six Sri Lankans, one Indian and one Iranian. The rest of the Rs160 million will be provided by the Malaysian government. According to the governor, when contacted for contribution, the other countries did not respond and neither did the Malaysian owner.
The governor did not go into details about how and when the money would be delivered to the pirates, and only said that talks and negotiations were underway and that the hostages would be home soon.
“This is not ransom money. This is the money which was spent on our people by the pirates,” said Khan. “If the need arises, we will get in touch with Pakistan Navy to bring back the hostages.”
The wife of Captain Jawaid Saleem, Shahnaz, said that she was extremely happy that the money was finally collected. She said that her husband informed her that the prisoners were receiving harsh treatment at the hands of the pirates.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2012.
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