Delhi speaks in two voices on Pakistan Navy's role

Delhi speaks in two voices on Pakistan Navy's role

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Friday lauded the role of Pakistani Navy in escorting the MV Suez. Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, however, alleged that Pakistani warship PNS Babur had partially damaged India’s INS Godavari by coming too close to it during the same operation.

Krishna’s appreciation for the Pakistan Navy came about a week after New Delhi lodged a protest with Islamabad against “risky manoeuvres” of PNS Babur, while escorting the MV Suez in Gulf of Aden.

His statement, which was released by the Ministry of External Affairs here in the morning, was apparently intended to keep the spirit right for Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s two-day parleys with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, which came to its end in the neighbouring country’s capital in the evening.

“The six Indian sailors, who were in captivity of Somali pirates aboard MV Suez, are now headed home from Karachi. We are relieved that their ordeal has ended and they would soon be safely back with their families. We appreciate the timely help extended to them and sailors of other countries, by the Pakistani navy,” said External Affairs Minister.

His statement was released shortly before an Emirates flight from Dubai landed in New Delhi, with six Indian sailors of MV Suez onboard. It was around the same time that Rao and Bashir started their second day’s talks in Islamabad, with the contentious issue on Jammu and Kashmir at the top of the agenda.

‘Risky manoeuvres’

Admiral Verma, however, used strong words to disapprove the “risky manoeuvres” of the PNS Babur. He said that the PNS Babur, which was escorting MV Suez in the Gulf of Aden, brushed off the Indian warship INS Godavari after coming from behind and moving close to the latter.

“Our ship (INS Godavari) was going at a particular speed and the other ship (PNS Babur) approached from the rear, as it must have tried to pass at a certain distance... but it didn’t happen as it turned up very close,” said the chief of the Indian Navy.

“We operate helicopters from ships and we keep the helicopter nets down (during landings). One of our helicopter nets got damaged (due to the brush-off with PNS Babur),” he added.

The Indian Navy chief said that the INS Godavari had been sent to reassure the Indian sailors onboard the MV Suez, after its release from captivity of the pirates. “After that, this incident took place where the Pakistani Navy ship came much closer than what is considered to be prudent by anybody operating ships in the seas,” the Navy chief added.
India had on June 17 last summoned the Naval Adviser of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to the Ministry of Defence and conveyed its serious concern on the incident involving PNS Babur and INS Godavari.

It had also lodged a formal protest the next day, alleging that the Pakistani warship violated regulations on navigational safety as contained in 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”.

Pakistan protest

Pakistan also lodged protest with India against manoeuvres by INS Godavari.
Sources in New Delhi said that Pakistani Navy personnel onboard the PNS Babur had shouted anti-India slogans when it had come close to INS Godavari.

They also added that  New Delhi had protested against similar violations by the same warship of Pakistan at least twice in the recent past.

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