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Saved from Somalis, trapped by Indians!

Saturday, June 25, 2011
By Shwetha Kannan

Terming rescued Pak hostages as ‘prisoners’ created the mess: Mahesh Bhatt

“The Pakistan Government outsmarted us. While it took them just one day to send our six Indian sailors back to New Delhi from Karachi, it took us three months to get these five Pakistani nationals home,” stated Dr. Abraham Mathai, President, Harmony Foundation, which played a major role in speeding up the process of sending these five men home.

Dr. Mathai, who is also Vice Chairman, State Minorities Commission, was speaking about five Pakistani nationals, who were held hostage for two months by Somali pirates and then kept from returning to Pakistan by Indian authorities for three months after that.

“Six Indian sailors were rescued last week after their ship ran out of diesel in the high seas. A Pakistan bumper was passing by and it took all of them to Karachi. On Friday morning, these six sailors arrived at New Delhi,” revealed Dr. Mathai.

While the delay in sending the Pakistani nationals back home can be attributed to the sluggish attitude of both the governments, the error of accidentally labelling them as ‘prisoners’, is also a cause for this delay according to Mahesh Bhatt, noted film maker and Chief Patron of Harmony Foundation. “During the correspondence with the Pakistani Consulate, in the documents, these rescued hostages were accidentally termed as ‘prisoners’. Now

this is where all hell broke loose and the mess was created.The entire procedure, when a person is termed as a ‘prisoner’, is different and very sluggish. It was an error within our establishment that accidentally used the word ‘prisoners’,” said Bhatt.

But now, it seems that all errors have been rectified and the five Pakistani nationals, who are currently lodged at theYellowGate police station, are set to fly back
to Pakistan on Monday. “All the formalities are done. All papers are cleared. The only problem is that there is no PIA flight to Karachi tillMonday.

We were ready to send themvia Emirates flight, but it’s the policy of the Pakistani Embassy that they should be sent through PIA only. So on Monday at 2 in the afternoon,they will be sent back home,” revealed Dr.Mathai.

While all efforts were being taken to see to it that that these Pakistani nationals are sent to Pakistan as soon as possible, the hostages got an opportunity
to see and experience a different India, know its people and have a change of perception about this country.

 “We had read quite a lot about India in the newspapers back home. We knew that things were not that great between India and Pakistan and there is a lot of animosity between both the nations. When were being taken to India, I was really scared. I did not know how I will be treated there. I was of the opinion that the people would not treat us well here and we will be troubled. But, nothing of that sort happened. In fact, we were treated very well and the people were very kind and hospitable. Yes, I would alwayswant to get back to Pakistan as soon as possible, but till the time we were here, we were treated very well,” said one of the rescued hostages, Sajjad Ali Khan fromKarachi. Lal Basht from Baluch, Mohammed Umer from Sindh, Aurangzeb from Karachi, Farhad from Pakhran were the other rescued hostages.

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