Senate body seeks release of Pakistanis held by Somali pirates


ISLAMABAD – The senate body on Interior Saturday appealed to United Nation (UN) to play its role for the release of Pakistanis and other crew members taken as hostage by Somali pirates after hijacking three ships from the coast of Somalia. The Senate Standing committee that met with Senator Talha Mahmood in the chair directed Pakistani Foreign Office to pressurize the countries concerned for the release of 11 Pakistani hostages. Special Foreign Secretary Muhammad Haroon Shoukat told the committee that pirates had threatened to kill 4 Pakistani hostages, if a sum of $20 million is not paid to them by March 15.
It may be recalled here that Somali pirates hijacked a Panamanian flagged cargo vessel, MV Suez off-the-coast of Somalia on August 2, 2010 and made hostage 23 crew members including four Pakistanis including Syed Wasi Askari (Captain) Muhammad Muzammil, Ali Rehman and Syed Aalam. Special foreign secretary told the committee that a Malaysian ship was hijacked by pirates on November 26, 2010 carrying five Pakistani while two more Pakistani who were on board at a UAE flag carrier were made hostage on March 26, 2010.
The official of Foreign office informed the committee that there were a total of 780 hostages held by the Somali pirates, out of which 11 are Pakistanis. He said that that on receiving information about the hijacking, Foreign Ministry instructed to its mission in Cairo and Nairobi on August 6, to liaise with the host government for the earliest and safe release of Pakistani crew members. “Companies of these ships were negotiating with pirates to release their crew members,” Haroon Shoukat said.
He said that it was difficult for Pakistani government to negotiate with Somali government as there was no permanent government in Somalia.
“Pakistani ambassadors are in contact with the governments of Egypt, UAE and Malaysia,” he added. The committee also showed serious concerns over the deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan. Additional Secretary Interior Nasir Hayat told the committee that after the existence of judicial commission the strength of missing persons remains 138. “Earlier, it was 1, 000,” he added.
The committee also directed interior ministry to submit its report on missing persons within next three days.
Senator Abdul Malik told the committee that each passing day was proving to be deadly for the people of Balochistan who were faced with kidnapping for ransom, target killing and bomb blasts. Upon this, chairman of committee decided that the next meeting would be convened in Quetta to examine the situation.