The seven Pakistani crew members, who were released by Somali pirates following a $1.1 million payment, have received a huge welcome at the Qauid-e-Azam Airport Karachi.
Families and government officials gathered to welcome the crews’ members who were released after being held hostage for one and half year.
The released Pakistanis, who were part of the 22 crew onboard the Malaysian-flagged vessel, had been in the custody of Somali pirates, since November 26, 2010 and were released on Wednesday.
It is vital to mention here that the rest of the crew members including seven from Bengal, six from Sri Lanka, and one each from India and Iran, are still held aboard the ship, currently 50 kilometers far from Somalia.
Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad while talking to media said, “The pirates had initially demanded over 10 million dollars – our team negotiated through intermediaries and settled for over a million dollars”.
He further said that they had generated the funds through their philanthropists, who were too generous to donate for the noble cause.
Javed Saleem, the captain of the ship MV Albedo, which was captured en route to Kenya, also spoke to the media and offered thanks to Pakistani government, particularly Dr Ebad, Ahmed Chinoy and Ansar Burney.
He offered all of the officials for making all-out efforts to give them freedom, something that become impossible even in their dreams. He added, “Those 20 months were the worst, we passed the most horrible time in our life”.
Hira Mujtaba, 11, daughter of chief officer Mohammad Mujtaba, said she would now celebrate the coming Eid with zeal. She explained, “I had prayed to Allah for the safety of my father. I hadn’t celebrated Eid since he was taken hostage”.
It is vital to mention here that Pakistan last year paid $2.1 million dollars to Somali pirates for the release of four of its crew along with 11 Egyptians, six Indians and a Sri Lankan.
Piracy has surged in recent years off Somalia, a lawless, war-torn country that sits alongside one of the world’s most important shipping routes.