KARACHI: “Its like getting a new life,” breathed one of the seven Pakistani sailors of MV Albedo who returned home on Thursday evening after spending close to 22 months in Somali captivity much to the delight of their loved ones, and the nation at large.
The Malaysian flag bearing vessel had been hijacked by Somali pirates in November 2010. Held hostage, they had demanded $10 million for their safe release. However, after months of negotiations, efforts of Sindh Governor Isratul Ibad along with intelligence agencies and Citizen-Police Liaison Committee chief Ahmed Chinoy and a generous donation from Bahria Town CEO Malik Riaz helped pay $1 million to cover pirates' costs for holding the hostages. The payment, which the Governor was forceful in clarifying was not ransom, led to the release the Pakistani men. The remaining crew remain in captivity.
“We were barely alive there. Our country demonstrated the most effort to get us released,” said another returning sailor.
As they landed in Karachi after having travelled from Nigeria via Dubai, where they had been shifted after being released, some thanked the Almighty by prostrating on solid Pakistani ground.
They were welcomed at the Karachi Airport by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Federal Minister Babar Khan Ghauri, Provincial Minister for Information Sharjeel Memon and other leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, besides their relatives.
“Its like we have gotten out of a flood and on to land,” one sailor described the feeling of returning to safety of the motherland.
The sailors were then taken to the Governor House Karachi where there was a reception was held in their honour, before they returned to their individual families.
Joy to be home
Returning home for the first time after being his 22 month ordeal in a Somali pirate holding camp ended, Chief Officer Mujtaba radiated the joy he felt. “I cannot express in words the joy I feel at seeing my children again” he beamed, as he held his loved ones close to his bosom.
Mujtaba’s young daughter, who clung tightly to her fathers leg, urged him to not take a job on a ship again. “Don’t go on a ship,” a smiling HIra pleaded.
Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad said that they could not imagine the ordeal suffered by the men nor their families.
“When we got involved in the process we chanced a glimpse of that pain,” he said adding that due to the relation of humanity, they continued to press on with the mission of recovering the hostages.
“All stakeholders will have to work to resolve this,” the Governor said of action against the pirates.
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