As uncertainty over the fate of bilateral talks between India and Pakistan continues, the two countries are making progress in the area of maritime cooperation. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) in 2005 has been extended for a period of five more years from March 17, 2016.
The pact focuses on cooperation between ICG and PMSA through exchange of information on EEZ violations, apprehended vessels, marine pollution, natural disasters or calamities, combating smuggling, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and piracy, and coordination in search and rescue, and return sea passage.
India and Pakistan have also established a communication link which is operational. As per the provisions of the agreement, the Directors General of ICG and PMSA meet periodically. “The MOU has been extended by mutual consent through diplomatic channels,” External Affairs Ministry said. The pact will enhance cooperation in the maritime domain between India and Pakistan.
President Pranab Mukherjee had said that India seeks to once again emerge as a major centre for international trade and become a maritime power. This pact would also help realise the vision laid out by Mr Mukherkjee. India’s bilateral trade with Pakistan stood at 2.3 billion in 2014-15. Exports to Pakistan have declined while imports from Pakistan have increased. Mumbai-Karachi is the sea route which is used for trade. However, trade through the sea-route is not very significant between these two countries.
The talks between India and Pakistan had hit a roadblock after Pathankot terror attacks on January 2. The two countries have not resumed dialogue till date despite repeated assurances from both sides that they are committed to take the dialogue forward. India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup has said that the two foreign secretaries are in regular touch, however, no date has been decided for the talks to resume.
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