- In a sign of the efforts to improve India-Pakistan relations in recent months, the heads of maritime security agencies of both sides met after a gap of two years and agreed to work on improving exchange of information regarding fishermen apprehended by each other.
Significance of the Dialogue:
- The dialogue is significant as last year India had refused to participate in the talks following the controversy over the arrest of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistani agencies.
- Efforts from both sides to try and improve the bilateral engagement including restarting the Track II Neemrana Dialogue in April.
- During the meeting, the Indian side reiterated the need for instituting Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for immediate release and repatriation of fishermen who cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) inadvertently as the issue needs to be approached in humanitarian context.
- Further, both sides also agreed on the need for expeditious exchange of the information about the apprehension of fishing boats and fishermen.
- The two agencies also agreed to collaborate in preservation and protection of marine environment, and towards this agreed to “explore opportunities for cooperation in the field of oil spill response at sea in line with the MoU signed recently with the South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP).”
- The dialogue is held annually as per the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two agencies in 2005. To validate the SOPs for efficient conduct of rescue of distressed vessels/crew at sea, the two agencies also agreed to “conduct search and rescue communications exercises” between the rescue coordination centres.
About South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme:
- South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) is an inter-governmental organization, established in 1982 by the governments of South Asia to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environment in the region. SACEP also serves as the secretariat of South Asian Seas Programme (SASP).
- South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) is an inter-governmental organization, established in 1982 by the governments of South Asia to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environment in the region
SACEP member countries are Afghanistan , Bangladesh , Bhutan , India , Maldives , Nepal , Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
About South Asian Seas Programme:
- The South Asian Seas Programme is one of 18 such programmes & the South Asian Seas Action Plan was adopted in March 1995 and today enjoys the unqualified support of the region’s five countries (Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). The South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) has been privileged to participate in this work, and is now serving as the Action Plan secretariat.
Source:TH & sacep.org