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Relief as $2.85m 'miracle' ransom raised to free father, crew
Gulf News
By Sharmila Dhal
Thursday, May 17, 2012


Nareman Jawaid, daughter of Captain Jawaid Saleem Khan, who has been held captive by Somali pirates since November.

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Dubai: "The past 24 hours have been crazy," said Nareman Jawaid, still talking between calls on Wednesday afternoon.

The deadline for the release of her father Captain Jawaid Saleem Khan and 21 others held by Somali pirates expired on Tuesday. But well past midnight, no one was sure if the $2.85 million (Dh10.45 million) ransom money had been raised.

A financial consultant in Dubai, Jawaid, 28, was all alone in her apartment, tottering between hope and despair. Every few minutes she was phoning her mother and sister in Pakistan, her eyes fixed on the news breaking on her computer. Then, somewhere along the line, "a miracle happened".

Miracle

Ahmad Chinoy, Head of Pakistan Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, who has taken up the cause of the captured crew, informed the family that the ransom money had been arranged. People, known and unknown, had put together the impossible amount. It was now a question of working out the logistics to secure the crew's release.

"I am tired but so relieved," said Nareman, who has pursued a relentless international media campaign to save her father's life. While her family, with the help of Chinoy and others, worked on the ground to gather public support, Nareman and her sister Mishal used Facebook, Twitter and traditional media to get the word across.

Humanity

"It is touching how sometimes relationships can grow in such critical circumstances and people who don't even know each other come together for the sake of humanity," she said, grateful for the overwhelming support the campaign has received.

But she is careful not to get carried away. "You can never tell with surety what the outcome will be. We can only hope and act in good faith. I am still praying for my father's safe release."

The last she saw Captain Jawaid was at Jebel Ali port days before his cargo ship MV Albedo was hijacked by Somali pirates near the Gulf of Aden on November 26, 2010. It had 23 crew members aboard — seven Pakistanis, seven Sri Lankans, six Bangladeshis, two Indians and one Iranian.

Died on board

"One Indian has died on board due to medical problems," said Nareman, adding that the plight of the crew has been a huge concern for families.

Speaking from Pakistan, Chinoy told XPRESS on Wednesday that he has been in touch with the pirates and the crew members.

"The pirates are online with us. I have spoken to four-five crew members as well since yesterday. They are out of danger as of now, but their condition is miserable as they do not have access to proper food, water, sanitation or medication," he said.

Chinoy expects the final round of talks with the pirates to take place this week.

"We are hoping that the logistics for the release of the crew will be worked out in another two weeks."
The captain's wife Shahnaz Jawaid said: "I hope everything goes well. It's been a chaotic time for all of us." Nareman, who draws inspiration from her mother's strength, said she cannot wait for the family to be reunited. "I have been keeping myself busy by going to work and doing what I am supposed to do. But I hope I don't have to wait much longer to be with my father — and family — again."


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