New Delhi: Ahead of their talks, India and Pakistan were on Saturday locked in a nasty spat and lodged protests against each other over their naval warships allegedly resorting to 'risky' and 'dangerous' manoeuvres after hijacked MV Suez was freed by Somali pirates.
India lodged a protest with Pakistan against the violation by Pakistan Naval Ship (PNS) Babur of relevant regulations on navigational safety by its "risky" manoeuvres jeopardising the safety of INS Godavari and its crew. The protest was lodged through the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi.
The Ministry of External Affairs Ministry in a statement also said the Naval Advisor of the Pakistan High Commission was summoned by the Ministry of Defence and "our serious concern on this incident was conveyed”.
An Indian Navy official said, "Reports of aggression by INS Godavari are incorrect and based on misinformation." Some Indian and Pakistan nationals were on board MV Suez.
The war of words erupted just days ahead of the talks between the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan in Islamabad on June 24-25.
The Indian action came a day after Pakistan said a protest was lodged with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad over what it alleged a dangerous manoeuvre by an
Indian warship which 'brushed' its frigate escorting Egyptian-owned vessel MV Suez. Pakistan also called the alleged incident on Thursday as serious.
The Indian protest was registered against the violation by Pakistan Naval Ship of relevant regulations on navigational safety as per the 'International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea' and Article 10 of the 'Agreement between India-Pakistan on Advance Notice on Military Exercises, Manoeuvres and Troops Movements 1991' involving INS Godavari on high seas, the MEA statement said.
"PNS Babur by its risky manoeuvres jeopardised the safety of INS Godavari and its crew," it added. The Ministry of External Affairs in an apparent reference to Pakistan's allegations earlier in the day said, "MV Suez that was seized in August 2010 has sailors from Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.....concerned Indian entities have been coordinating with their interlocutors overseas, which has led to safe release of the sailors and the ship.”
“Insinuations to the contrary by a few voices, stem from lack of appreciation of facts, and are totally baseless."
"Somalian piracy is a global challenge and menace, which requires a well coordinated response by the international community," MEA said, adding the vessel was now heading for Oman.
The Pakistan Foreign Office in its statement alleged the Indian Navy warship Godavari "not only hampered humanitarian operations being carried out by Pakistan Navy Ship Babur for (Egyptian) Merchant Vessel (MV) Suez but also undertook dangerous manoeuvres, which resulted in the brushing of the sides" of the two warships.
"This incident constitutes a serious violation of international regulations pertaining to safe conduct at high seas and of the India-Pakistan Agreement of 1991 on Advance
Notice of Military Exercise Manoeuvres and Troop Movements," it claimed.
"The Indian government has been asked to ensure non-recurrence of such incidents," the statement said.
PNS Babur is escorting and assisting MV Suez, which was released by Somali pirates earlier this week after over USD 2 million was paid as ransom for its 22-member crew, including four Pakistanis and six Indians.
INS Godavari had been dispatched to escort MV Suez to Salalah in Oman but was pulled out after the merchant vessel under a Pakistani national did not respond to its call.
First Published: Saturday, June 18, 2011, 21:58