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‘Brotherly ties': Iran to free Pakistanis stranded on ship seized by IRGC, says envoy

‘Brotherly ties’: Iran to free Pakistanis stranded on ship seized by IRGC, says envoy

طوبیٰ Tooba 3 months ago 0 16

  • MSC Aries vessel was seized by IGRC on April 13.
  • Company says 25 crew onboard the ship.
  • Pakistan has taken up the matter with Iran.

ISLAMABAD: Iran on Monday said that they would release Pakistanis, stranded on a ship seized by the Iranian forces, after confirmation of their nationalities and completing legal formalities due to brotherly ties between the two countries.

Iranian envoy to Pakistan, Reza Amiri Moqadam, told Geo News that they were waiting for the confirmation of the presence of Pakistani nationals on the ship.

He confirmed that the Iran Embassy has shared the details with higher officials in Tehran.

“If there’s a Pakistani on the ship, we will free the national after completing legal formalities considering brotherly ties,” the diplomat said.

On Sunday, the Foreign Office had taken up the matter with Iranian authorities in Islamabad and shared details with them, sources told the TV channel.

The development came after the family of the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Israel-linked container ship seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) asked the government of Pakistan for help.

Family seeks Pakistani govt help

Family sources told Geo News that there are two Pakistanis who were on the ship seized by the Iranian forces and one of them is Muhammad Adnan Aziz —the COO of the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries.

His family lives in Karachi and Azad Kashmir and some of his relatives live in London who shared their worries with the media.

They confirmed that Aziz, along with another Pakistani, was on the ship seized by Iran’s forces.

“We approached the Foreign Office seeking help for the safe return of Muhammad Adnan Aziz as soon as possible. The FO has assured us of all help. We understand that the matter has been taken up with the Iranian authorities already.”

The family members said they were shocked after learning that Iran had seized the ship near the Strait of Hormuz amid rising tensions across the region after a deadly Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

They clarified that Aziz had nothing to do with the ownership of the ship or the regional issues.

“He was just doing his job as a professional and was seized. We want his release and return,” shared the family members.

The ship was commandeered by the IRGC, the elite force that lost seven members, including two generals, in the Syria strike.

“The ship has now been guided towards the territorial waters of our country,” state-run IRNA reported.

Who owns the vessel?

The vessel — identified as the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries — had departed from a port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) en route to India.

It is associated with the London-based Zodiac Maritime, a part of the Zodiac Group run by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer and his family.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the ship’s crew comprised of Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian, and Estonian nationals, and pushed back against the vessel’s seizure.

Footage from the deck of the vessel showed soldiers rappelling down from a helicopter.

The helicopter appeared to be a Soviet-designed Mil Mi-17, which is operated by the naval forces of the IRGC.

Zodiac Maritime said in a statement that MSC, an Italian-Swiss shipping group, was responsible for all vessel activities.

MSC confirmed there were 25 crew members on board the ship, adding in a statement that it is “working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing, and safe return of the vessel”.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) had said a vessel was seized by “regional authorities” 50 nautical miles (92km) northeast of the UAE’s Fujairah in a waterway vital to world trade.

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