Families of Pakistani sailors Captain Wasi Hassan, Syed Alam, Ali Rehman and Mohammad Muzammil once eagerly awaited visits and phone calls from their loved ones, who work as crew members on merchant ships. Their eagerness has now taken on an ominous tone they wait to hear if their family members are still alive. The four men are being held captive by Somali pirates who captured their vessel, the MV Suez, on August 2, 2010.
The Pakistanis are among the 545 sailors currently being held hostage by Somali pirates, according to the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR). Over 20 vessels and an unconfirmed number of smaller vessels and boats are being held by the pirates, for whom kidnappings is a highly lucrative profession.
Express News contacted Hasan on Sunday, who said: “We are not in a good condition at all. They (the pirates) just beat us up while handing the phone over.“ The call was disconnected while Hassan was pleading with the pirates to not beat him up for using the phone.
According to EU NAVFOR, the MV Suez reported being under small arms fire from a pirate attack in the early hours of August 2. “Minutes later she reported pirates on board. After notifica tion of the attack, attempts were made to make contact with MV Suez but to no avail. MV Suez was travelling in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor when attacked.
Immediately after the first report a helicopter was directed to the ship but pirates had already taken over the command of the vessel.“ The 23-member crew comprised Egyptians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Indians. It was a Panama flagged vessel carrying a cargo of cement bags and was destined for Eritrea.
The families of the crew members have appealed to the government, political parties and to people to donate towards the pirates’ ransom demand of $2 million.
According to Muzammil’s brother Mohammad Kashan, the bank account set up by the families for donations had only netted about Rs350,000 as of Saturday. The deadline to pay the ransom is May 9.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that he will contact Interpol to secure the release of the Pakistani captives. Human rights activist Ansar Burney has been in touch with the Somali pirates as well.