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April 6, 2021

Five Pakistani sailors make it home, finally

Top Story

April 6, 2021

KARACHI: Five out of the six Pakistanis stranded in a tugboat in the Red Sea finally reached Karachi on early Tuesday after a month-long ordeal of drifting in the sea mostly without food and water.

“The good news is that five of the six Pakistanis rescued by the Egyptian Navy have been brought back by Qatar Airways from Egypt,” said social worker Ansar Burney while talking to The News.

“But the sixth one, Mohammad Shafi, passed away on the drifting tugboat Mehr in the Red Sea and his body will arrive by cargo in a day or two.” “We had almost lost all hope but due to the efforts of Burney Sahib and others, they are back home,” Asadullah Khan, the son of one of the five Pakistanis rescued, told The News. “ On Sunday night, I was informed by the Pakistan Embassy in Egypt that the five would return to Karachi by Qatar Airways on Monday night.”

Though the five have eventually returned to their homeland, yet, Shafi was not so lucky and now his body will arrive in Karachi in a day or two. The six Pakistani nationals, including labourers and crew, were stranded on a Tanzanian tugboat that was drifting in the Red Sea since the first week of March when its engines broke down. The News had highlighted the misery of the Pakistanis who were recruited to take the tugboat to Iran from Oman. Acting on The News report, the Maritime Minister, Ali Zaidi, initially ordered a PNSC ship to serve them food and medicines but they were left to drift in the Red Sea. Later, Minister Ali Zaidi suddenly changed his stance and “flatly refused to help the Pakistani nationals anymore, saying they went to the sea illegally.” The News continuously highlighted the issue to save the lives of the Pakistanis on humanitarian grounds while underlilning the need for them to be prosecuted if they had performed any illegal action. Ironically, none from the Government of Pakistan tried to rescue them. It was during these conditions that one of the crew members of the tug Mehr, Mohammad Shafi, passed away. However it was pure matter of fate and providence that the tugboat continued to drift and reached the Egyptian territorial waters on March 27th, from where the Egyptian Navy purely out of humanitarian concerns and empathy rescued them and handed them over to the Pakistan Embassy.

The tragedy has not ended as yet as only five mangaged to returned home. There are three more ships on which almost a dozen Pakistani sailors are similarly stranded near the UAE (Ajman) and Africa and the Government of Pakistan is doing very little to reach out to them.