Delhi is all set to host a high-level meet between the maritime security chiefs of India and Pakistan, with Rear Admiral Zaka-ur-Rehman, the Director-General (DG) of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) arriving on Sunday evening, marking the resumption of security talks between the neighbouring countries.
During his two-day visit, Rehman is scheduled to hold a series of high level talks with his Indian counterpart Rajendra Singh, DG of Indian Coast Guards (ICG). The meeting holds significance in the backdrop of India withdrawing from last year’s talks that were to be held in Pakistan, in the aftermath of the surgical strikes India carried out in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir across the Line of Control.
As per a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries on 3 October 2005, the maritime security talks at the highest level will have to be held every year, the meeting being hosted by them alternately. In 2016, India had hosted the meeting when then PMSA DG Jamil Akhtar had visited New Delhi.
It was Pakistan’s turn last year to host the meet but India refused to attend it as the fallout of the surgical strikes, despite the MoU being renewed on 17 March 2016 for five years. India had also dropped out from Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meet (HACGAM), another important 20-nation multilateral maritime security meeting, held on 24-25 October last year, in protest against the Uri attack.
A senior officer posted in the ICG headquarters privy to the details of the high level talks told The Sunday Guardian, “The reason behind allowing only the ICG among all the security establishments to hold the security talks with their Pakistani counterparts is the need for coordinated search and rescue operations in the Indian Ocean Region, in addition to the usual constabulary role at the International Maritime Boundary Line between India and Pakistan.”
According to diplomatic circles, Sunday’s developments open up doors for resumption of bilateral talks between the warring countries sooner or later.