Thursday June 23, 2011, was a red letter day for Pakistan. A country which is accused of harbouring, aiding and abetting terrorists, despite being the foremost victim of terror attacks, ransomed, rescued and safely transported 22 sailors belonging to various nationalities, and handed them over to their relatives or their diplomatic missions for onwards dispatch home. The plight of the crew members of Egyptian origin cargo vessel MV Suez, a merchant vessel carrying a cargo of cement bags from Pakistan to Eretria, is well documented. On August 2, 2010, as the merchant vessel sailed through the Gulf of Aden, it was attacked and commandeered by Somali pirates. Under the command of Pakistani Captain Syed Wasi Hassan, the ships 22-member crew comprised 11 Egyptians, 6 Indians, 4 Pakistanis and a Sri Lankan. The pirates demanded $20 million as ransom or threatened to kill the crew of MV Suez. The ships owners were able to raise only $1 million, thus Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and human rights activist Ansar Burney jumped into the fray and negotiated with the pirates to pay $2.1 million. Perhaps, they were moved by the tears of Captain Wasis 12-year old daughter, Laila Wasi, who had declared on the Pakistani media that if required she would sell her kidneys to get her father freed. Likewise, India, which had six crew members amongst the captives, was approached by the families of the sailors. Initially, Indian Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna made most of the incident on media and got a number of philanthropists and Indian tycoons to pledge large amounts of money. However, when they saw Pakistan taking the lead, they all backed out, despite the desperate pleas of the sailors families because harrowing tales of the pirates threatening execution of the sailors were reaching them. The Indian government remained unmoved, but Pakistan continued its solo efforts. Once the requisite funds were raised, Pakistan Navy joined in the humanitarian effort through its operation Umeed-e-Nau. The navy chipped in at two stages; it dispatched teams of Naval Special Operation Force (NavSOF), navy medical teams along with medical supplies and food provisions via the PNS Babur. During stage I, the vessel was again attacked by the pirates to hijack the sailors, but PNS Babur repulsed it successfully. India, which so far had borne nothing, except criticism owing to the callousness of its government, nearly caused an international incident, by not only hampering humanitarian operations being carried out by PNS Babur for MV Suez, but also sending its warship INS Godavari that undertook dangerous manoeuvres resulting in brushing of the sides. There was further twist to the tale, when the Captain of MV Suez declared that the vessel was unfit for further operations, as it had developed electrical problems. Pakistans Naval Chief heeded the SOS pleas and tasked PNS Babur to take the crew of the ill fated MV Suez on board, who were later transferred to a PN Frigate Zulfiquar, which safely brought the crew to Karachi, where they received a tumultuous welcome by the Sindh Governor, who also hosted a reception in their honour and showered them with gifts before their return to freedom after nearly 11 months. Now contrast it with the fate of five Pakistani crew members of an Iranian fishing trawler Al-Murtuza, who were captured by the Somali pirates in December 2010, but rescued by Indian Navy two months earlier, 290 nautical miles from Lakshadweep. During that time, the navy rounded up 106 pirates in several raids and also rescued 70 hostages, belonging to Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey, Myanmar and Pakistan. All other nationalities were allowed to go home, but the Pakistanis were held back under one pretext or the other. Initially, the Pakistani High Commission was not permitted to proceed to Mumbai, as diplomatic hurdles were created, while five Pakistani sailors continued to suffer incarceration at the Yellow Gate police station. Photographer-cum-social worker Parvez Sheikh, a local restaurant owner, who supplied their meals, and actress Pooja Bhatt and film director Mahesh Bhatt went out of their way to help the sailors establish contact with the Pakistani High Commission and pressurise the Indian Home/Foreign Ministries to authorise their movement and return. On the other hand, Pakistan did not differentiate between the nationalities of the crew of MV Suez, even Indians, who were in a majority. Therefore, Indias obduracy and Pakistans magnanimity are in sharp contrast. n The writer is a Political and Defence Analyst.