India denies obstructing Pakistani warship (Third Lead)

June 18th, 2011 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Islamabad, June 18 (IANS) India Saturday dismissed as “totally baseless” Pakistani allegations that its naval vessel was obstructed by an Indian warship in the Gulf of Aden while escorting a merchant carrier that had been freed by Somali pirates.

External affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said the two countries had been coordinating with their overseas interlocutors in the months that led to the release of the Egyptian cargo ship MV Suez and its sailors by Somali pirates.

The freed ship was sailing to Oman with its crew.

“Insinuations to the contrary by a few voices stem from lack of appreciation of facts and are totally baseless,” Prakash said on the Pakistani allegation made by the foreign office in Islamabad.

“MV Suez is now heading for Oman,” he said, alluding to Pakistani claims that India had not come to the aid of MV Suez despite the presence of six Indians among the 22-man crew.

Indian official sources had earlier said that the reports of aggression by Indian frigate INS Godavari vis-a-vis Pakistani frigate PNS Babar in the Gulf of Aden were “incorrect and based on misinformation”.

The sources indicated that Pakistan, which lodged a protest with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad over the alleged obstruction Thursday of its ship, was spreading canard against India.

Pakistan’s foreign office had Friday lodged a formal protest and said that its frigate PNS Babar was brushed past by INS Godavari.

Pakistan claimed that INS Godavari “hampered humanitarian operations” carried out by PNS Babar June 16 while escorting the MV Suez.

That apart, the Pakistan foreign office spokesperson said that the Indian warship also “undertook dangerous manoeuvres”.

“This incident constitutes a serious violation of international regulations pertaining to safe conduct at high seas and of the India-Pakistan agreement of 1991 on advance notice of military exercise manoeuvres and troop movement,” the Pakistani spokesperson said.

“Somalian piracy is a global challenge and menace, which requires a well coordinated response by the international community. MV Suez, seized in August 2010, has sailors from Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.”

MV Suez was released June 13 after nearly 10 months. Its crew included six Indians, 11 Egyptians, four Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan.

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