New Delhi: After a 10-month-long and agonising wait, the six Indian sailors have arrived at the Delhi airport today morning.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had thanked Pakistan for help provided to the sailors. He said that India appreciates timely help extended to sailors by Pakistan navy and that he is relieved that sailors’ ordeal has ended.
The crew thanked Pakistani activist Ansar Burney who helped in the negotiations with pirates, as well as with raising a part of the ransom money.
“I would like to congratulate India. If there is one person who has harmed Pakistan, then there are many who have wanted only good for us. So how can I ignore them? I send my greetings to your entire nation. And from Pakistan I send you a message of peace and goodwill,” said Mr Burney.
Earlier on Thursday, it was an emotional welcome for the crew of MV Suez in Karachi. As Captain Wasi Hasan came on land after ten months in captivity, he was greeted by his 12-year old daughter, Laila.
Indian officials from the embassy in Islamabad were present to greet the six Indian sailors who were on board the Egyptian-owned commercial ship.
“Our gesture is the message of love. I hope that India too will reciprocate with love because Indian sailors have been also saved,” Sindh Governor Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan said, while welcoming the Suez crew.
After hanging between fear of the worst and hope, families of these sailors were overjoyed.
“I am very happy to hear the news. In the last one week, there had been problems with the ship. I last spoke to my husband when he was getting on to the Pakistani ship as MV Suez was sinking,” an overjoyed Madhu Sharma, wife of sailor NK Sharma, said.
Shamsher Singh, father of another sailor Satnam Singh told PTI, “I had lost hope completely. But after I spoke to Ansar Burney in April, my hope was rekindled.”
The 22-member crew – that included four Pakistanis – was freed last week by Somali pirates; the release secured after a $2.1 million ransom was paid, some of it raised through donations in Pakistan. Within hours of being declared free, the Suez was attacked again by pirates.
Pakistan deputed a warship – the PNS Babur – to escort the Suez to safer waters. India has been accused of ignoring pleas for help, both from the crew and from the family. When the INS Godavari eventually reached the Suez, a diplomatic row erupted. India accused the PNS Babar of aggressive manouvering which led to it grazing the Indian warship. Both countries issued strong statements.
The Suez ran into technical trouble while it was being escorted to Salalah in Oman. The 22 crew members of the Suez then transferred to the PNS Babur. They finally reached Karachi on the PNS Zulfiqar. NDTV