Pakistan cancels annual maritime dialogue with India, says prevailing conditions to blame

File photo of an Indian Coast Guard ship. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 20, 2019, 01.32 PM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) has cancelled its annual maritime security dialogue with India. The meet between the India Coast Guard and the PMSA was to happen from March 19 to 21.

Pakistan blamed the cancellation on the prevailing conditions. 

The Indian Air Force had launched an air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistan's Balakote on February 26. A day later, Pakistan dropped bombs on Indian territory from its side of the Line of Control. India said the bombs were aimed at Indian military installations but that they missed their targets. 

The JeM had claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama terrorist attack which left over 40 CRPF personnel dead. 

India and Pakistan held their first maritime dialogue last year after a gap of two years with Indian Coast Guard Director General Rajendra Singh and PMSA chief Rear Admiral Zaka Ur Rehman meeting in Delhi. 

Before that, the two sides had met in Islamabad in 2016.

In the 2018 meeting, the release of Indian fisherman had been New Delhi's key focus. 

"During the meeting, the Indian side reiterated the need for instituting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for immediate release and repatriation of the fishermen who cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) inadvertently as the issue needs to be approached in humanitarian context," the Indian Coast Guard said in a statement.  

483 Indian fishermen are currently in Pakistani custody, according to a list exchanged between India and Pakistan on January 1 as part of a 2008 agreement.

On January 17 this year, Indian authorities said the PMSA fired on an Indian fishing boat near Gujarat's Mitha port. One Indian fishermen died, while six were rescued. 

The martime dialogue between India and Pakistan is part of a memorandum of understanding signed between India and Pakistan in 2005. The heads of  the ICG and the PMSA, like the two countries' DGMOs (Director General of Military Operations) are also connected by a hotline, part of the same 2005 agreement.