KARACHI: Chief Officer Jameel Jhangian’s family in Lyari’s Chakiwara is in touch with him through the messaging application WhatsApp as Jameel awaits the judgement of a court hearing being held in Port Tewfiq (Taufiq), Egypt, on Tuesday.
Speaking to Dawn by phone on Monday afternoon, Chief Officer Jameel said the 17- member crew on a Kuwait-based merchant navy ship, MV AKKAZ, gave the power of attorney to the Pakistan embassy in Egypt to represent them at the court hearing.
According to Nafees Zakaria, the Foreign Office spokesperson, the embassy arranged temporary visas for the Pakistani crew to bring them ashore as their presence in the court was mandatory to file a case. The case was filed by the Pakistani crew against the Kuwait-based corporation to secure their legal and financial rights.
The Pakistanis maintain that the corporation owes them three months’ salary. Since abandoning the ship could cause legal complications and loss of financial rights, the crew decided to file a case to get their dues. According to the spokesperson, the embassy informed the government that the “return air tickets of the crew are ready, but they want their salaries of the past three months [before leaving]. The papers are ready for filing the case today (Monday) to seek seizure of the ship to recover salaries and other dues”.
The spokesperson said that “the future course would be decided after the court verdict in a few days and after consultation with the crew”.
The embassy officials also clarified that “the passports of the crew were inspected two weeks ago but never impounded”.
Back in Karachi, Jameel’s family relies on WhatsApp to hear his voice. His wife, Saira Jameel, who is expecting their sixth child, waits for his phone calls and keeps him updated on the happenings at home and around.
The family is waiting desperately for the officer’s repatriation as they last saw him five months ago.
“We are used to spending a year or two without him,” says Saira while sitting in her living room. Jameel’s mother, Zulekha Noor Mohammad, says that “his (Jameel’s) father, Noor Mohammad, worked on a merchant navy ship as well. But this is the first time in 20 years that any of our family members has got stranded.”
Chief Officer Jameel, along with 16 other crew members and a captain, left Pakistan for Kuwait via Dubai on Aug 8. Boarding a Kuwait-based corporation’s ship named AKKAZ in Dubai, they were asked by their owner to reroute their journey through Egypt as the captain had informed the owner about “a broken engine”.
Speaking to Dawn by phone, Captain Mohammad Amin Malik narrates that “there was a problem with the engine of the ship. So we were asked by our Kuwait-based owners to move towards Egypt. We argued against it as we didn’t have enough fuel at the time. The journey, which normally takes 11 days, took us over a month because of the broken engine and low fuel as we were running it on an hourly basis. We were afraid the ship might be hijacked by Somali pirates, but thankfully, that didn’t happen”.
The ship reached Egypt on Oct 14, Captain Malik said, and since then it has found itself stranded at the entrance to the Suez Canal. At the same time, Captain Malik added, some government officials asked them to leave Egypt within 24 hours.
“But when we couldn’t do so because of inadequate fuel, the Egyptian authorities confiscated our passports.”
In addition, he said, “our contracts expired in the beginning of November. But there’s been no response from either the corporation in Kuwait or Netherlands”.
Malik, who hails from Chakwal, claims that “we had warned the authorities about the situation on the ship, but received no response”.
Chief Officer Jameel bemoans that “our salaries are not reaching home. As a result, my children’s school fees have not been paid for five months now”.
Back in Lyari, Jameel’s mother says: “A lot of people have come to comfort us . Their words help us cope for a while. But it is not enough to end our distress. His wife is pregnant and our family of 20, including his children, his parents and brother’s family, depends on one person’s salary. It won’t work without him.”
Sitting in the same room as his family, Jameel’s brother, Hafeez, says that “the issue took a while to get noticed because we were trying to resolve it through dialogue. But when it didn’t work, we decided to speak to Ansar Burney and other social activists.”
courtesy : dawn news