Pakistan, India discussing ways to avert conflict on high seas

Filed on August 8, 2012

Pakistan and India are discussing the establishment of a mechanism of direct contact between the navies of the two countries to avert military confrontations on high seas.

The mechanism could involve a communication system like hotline between senior officers of the two navies akin to the one between the armies.

“These are issues we are discussing and certainly with respect to Pakistan, it forms part of the discussion between the two foreign ministries which is the protocol to prevent incidents at sea,” Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said.

The development comes in the backdrop of incidents involving Pakistan Naval ship Babur and Indian ship INS Godavari in the Gulf of Aden last year.

The Navy Chief was asked about the progress made by India in establishing such a protocol with China for avoiding conflicts on high seas. Admiral Verma said, “With China, this is something which would be in place when we have requirements to talk to each other.”

Indian and Chinese warships have also been reportedly involved in difficult situations as last year in South China Sea Indian ship INS Airavat was asked by the Chinese Navy to leave the maritime area.

Asked about the need for having Confidence Building Measures with the Chinese Navy as their aircraft carriers would also soon operate in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Verma said the two navies were cooperating in the Gulf of Aden and the issue was “out of place”.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and India have reaffirmed their resolve to seek an amicable solution to the Siachen issue but no consensus could be reached during the recent defence secretary-level talks between the two nations, government said here on Wednesday.

The 13th round of Siachen talks between the Defence Secretaries of India and Pakistan was held at Rawalpindi in Pakistan on June 11 and 12.

“The sequence of steps to resolve the issue were discussed. No consensus could be arrived at. Both sides reaffirmed their resolve to seek an amicable solution,” Indian Defence Minister A K Antony told the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Indian Parliament, in a written reply.

During the talks, the Indian side was led by Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma while Pakistan was represented by its Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi.

Pakistani and Indian troops have been engaged in a standoff on Siachen, described as the world’s highest and the coldest battlefield, since 1984.

In 2003, the two countries put in place a ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir but reportedly more troops have died on the glacier due to the adverse weather than combat. —

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