Paying attention to calls of many people, President Asif Ali Zardari has given task to Interior Minister Rehman Malik and directed him to take measures for the release of Pakistani hostages held by Somali pirates.
In the wee hours of Monday, the President telephoned Rehman Malik, asking him to leave no stone unturned for the recovery of hostages as the deadline of ransom money given by the pirates concludes Tuesday, May 15, 2012.
The relatives of the hostages are in continuous pain since the pirates hijacked the MV Albedo ship off the coast of Somalia in November 2010 carrying Pakistani crewmen.
At first, the Somali pirates had demanded a ransom worth $8 million for releasing the hostages. However, further negotiations brought the figure down to around $ 2.85 million by April 20.
Ahmed Chinoy, Head of Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), bought some more time after adjuring with the pirates getting the deadline extended to May 15.
In the meantime, the families had been struggling to collect the money but they are short of $1.4 million, which they were desperately trying to collect before the deadline.
Earlier, the families and friends of sailors even camped at Punjab Chowrangi in Karachi and literally begged the passers-by to help them get their loved ones freed. Shehnaz Jawed, wife of Captain Jawed, has not slept for two consecutive days.
Most of her time was spent on the phone, begging her husband’s captors to wait another few days, as the money was still being collected.
Every 20 minutes, she gets a call by the pirates asking her if the money has been collected, or should they go on and kill everyone on board.” They shout at me, and are angrier than ever, as the constant wait is getting to them. They have resorted to torture now,” the worried lady said.
A few famous TV celebrities had also been asked to come in and help the families’ cause. Anoushey Ashraf and VJ Mathira were among the first ones to arrive, while singer Shehzad Roy had to back out at the last minute.
The deadline to pay the money, which was extended twice before, has once again been delayed to May 15, as the families are still dependent on external help to raise $1.4 million.