Death Threat

Somali pirates have threatened to kill four Pakistani hostages onboard “MV Suez” if a $20 million ransom is not paid by March 15.

“Efforts for the early release of Pakistanis captured by Somali pirates are in the final stages,” a senior official of Foreign Office reported.

Eleven Pakistanis, travelling on vessels of various nationalities, have been in custody of Somali pirates since March 2010, Shaukat informed the Senate standing committee on interior.

Lawmakers expressed concern over the poor performance of officials from ministries of foreign affairs and ports and shipping, who did not adopt measures for the early release of Pakistani citizens.

They directed the ministries to take up the issue with other states to whom the captured ships belonged.

Officials informed the committee that four Pakistanis were onboard an Egyptian vessel that was captured by Somali pirates last year. Another ship from Malaysia carrying five Pakistanis was hijacked by the pirates on November 26, 2010 while two more Pakistanis were among hostages of a hijacked ship belonging to the UAE on March 26, 2010. Companies that own these ships were negotiating with pirates to release their crew members, Shaukat said.

“It is difficult for Pakistan to negotiate with Somali government as there is no permanent government in Somalia,” he said, adding the Foreign Office was in contact with the governments of Egypt, UAE and Malaysia for the release of Pakistani nationals.

The committee directed the Foreign Office to stay in constant contact with those states whose ships were captured by the pirates for ransom, and demanded concerted, global action against piracy on the high seas.

Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood, who chaired the meeting, said efforts must be made to have Captain Wasi and the crew members of ocean liner ‘MV Suez’ released as soon as possible.

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