NEW DELHI, Apr. 15: Amid fresh turmoil in ties with Pakistan over the death sentence to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, India has decided to put on hold all bilateral exchanges.
The government on Friday called off talks between the two countries on maritime security which was scheduled for April 17. India officially conveyed to Pakistan that it wasn't prepared to host a delegation of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) which was supposed to travel to India on Sunday.
As first reported by TOI on March 27, the two countries had approved dialogue between PMSA and Indian Coast Guard in a sign that they were looking to break the stalemate caused by the attack last year on an Indian army camp in J&K's Uri. This, even as a formal start to the comprehensive bilateral dialogue launched in December 2015 remained out of question.
The defence ministry decided that it wasn't the time to discuss security with Pakistan when, defying all international norms, the neighbouring country had awarded death sentence to Jadhav.
The only engagement that the two countries have had until now this year has come in the form of Indus Water Commission talks for which an Indian delegation visited Islamabad.
The visit by PMSA for April 17 talks would have been the first by any Pakistani delegation after the Uri attack. Sources here said that the sudden and inexplicable decision to award death sentence to Jadhav meant there couldn't be business as usual at any level with Pakistan.
"The Indian high commission in Islamabad has conveyed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the MSA-ICG meeting scheduled to be held in Delhi on 17th has been postponed," said Pakistan high commission spokesperson Khawaja Maaz Tariq in response to a query.
The government had tried to defend the Indus talks saying that as long as India was party to the Indus Waters Treaty, it was under legal obligation to attend all "treaty-mandated meetings".
However, the secretary-level talks which were supposed to happen over the same issue in the US earlier this week too have been postponed. The World Bank is now expected to come up with a fresh set of dates for the talks meant to resolve differences between India and Pakistan over Kishenganga and Ratle power projects in J&K.
Interestingly, the Coast Guard seemed prepared to hold talks with Pakistan as late as Friday morning. Its chief PRO Vijay Kumar told TOI that the Coast Guard was awaiting PMSA's "travel plan" for the April 17 talks.
The Indian Coast Guard and PMSA regularly meet under an MoU signed in 2005 which envisaged cooperation between the two agencies through exchange of information on Exclusive Economic Zone violations, apprehended vessels, marine pollution, natural disasters and calamities. The MoU also seeks to combat smuggling, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and piracy, and coordination in search and rescue and return sea passage.(TOI)
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