Emotional scenes were witnessed when seven Pakistani crew members of merchant ship MV Albedo were reunited with their families after 21 months late on Thursday night after flying into Karachi from Dubai.
The men, members of the 22 crew onboard the Malaysian-flagged vessel, had been held hostage by Somali pirates since November 26, 2010 and were released on Wednesday after a $1.1 million was paid as ransom by Pakistani families and donors.
Unfortunately the rest of the crew members — seven Bengladeshis, six Sri Lankans, an Iranian and an Indian — are still held hostage by the pirates aboard the ship, currently 50km off Somalia.
Those who returned home included Pakistani crew members Captain Jawaid Saleem, Chief Officer Mohammed Mujtaba, Third Officer Raheel Anwar, Engineer Zulfiqar Ali, and sailors Kashif Naveed, Faqeer Mohammed Soomro and Ahsan Islam.
While Saleem, Soomro and Ali belong to Karachi, the rest are from other parts of the country. Naveed is from Jhelum, Islam from Dir, Anwar from Faisalabad and Mujtaba from Mansehra.
Earlier, the seven crew members were greeted and garlanded at the airport by a host of parliamentarians mostly belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) including federal minister Babar Ghauri.
Later, at a grand reception hosted in honour of the crew members by the Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, Captain Jawaid Saleem told newsmen: “I am very happy to be back in my home country. This is the first time in the history of piracy that Pakistan emerged as the only country which safely had its hostages released.”
Describing his experience, he said the priates kept him and two other Pakistani hostages in a jungle for three months. “We slept on rocks, and there was no shelter. Only flour, and macaroni were given to us to eat and we used to serve the pirates first.”
Chief Officer Mujtaba, who met his son Abdullah for the first time since he was born just a few days after the vessel was captured said, “I can’t describe how happy I am to see my son.