Indian Navy action prompts calls for joint move against pirates

November 20th, 2008 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Nov 20 (IANS) The Indian Navy action to sink a pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden has elicited words of praise and calls for joint action by the international community in the pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast.”The international community has not taken enough and quick measures to tackle the pirates,” George Katout of the Dubai office of Barry Rogliano Salles, a Paris-headquartered shipbroking company, told IANS here.

According to reports, there have been 58 pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and 12 off the east coast of Somalia in the first nine months of this year alone.

“Those are international waters and nobody is doing enough,” Katout added. He stated the Indian Navy’s action was normal given the circumstances.

The Indian warship INS Tabar had destroyed the pirate mothership Wednesday after coming under attack, sending the pirates scurrying for cover on three speedboats. The Tabar had been sent to safeguard Indian vessels passing through those waters.

“What the Indian Navy did was normal. But you must remember there are many non-Indian ships plying on those waters,” Katout said.

“The money involved is not the only concern. There is the question of human lives also. People with families back home serve as crew on those ships,” he added.

Prior to the Indian Navy action, Somali pirates had hijacked a Saudi supertanker, the Sirius Star, with more than $100 million worth of crude on board. According to reports, the pirates have set a $25-million ransom for the release of the ship.

Diplomatic sources here said there is an immediate need for a joint coordinated action by the navies of different countries whose ships pass through the Gulf of Aden.

“It is important for our commerce to go on,” a senior Indian diplomat posted in the Gulf said.

“There is a group of navies based off Manama (in Bahrain) and India is not there. I understand the International Matritime Bureau has now asked for a fleet of like-minded countries to be put together,” the diplomat said.

Another diplomatic source in Qatar said the recent defence pact India signed with that Gulf nation during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit would help in wider international efforts to counter piracy in the region.

The pact covers the issue of maritime security as well.

“These things (like the pact) will help in consolidating the wider efforts. We need to expand on this,” the source said.

“With the realisation that the trade should continue (through the Gulf of Aden), the West is also saying that collective action should be taken.”

There has been much praise for the Indian warship’s action.

“It’s heartening to here (sic) of the Indian Navy defending the peace like this,” Adrian Connor from Scotland said in a posting on the Al Jazeera television network’s website.

“In these uncertain economic times the last thing we need is disruption of our global trade routes on which we all depend. Maybe navies should pool resources and implement a convoy escort system - just like they did in the North Atlantic in World War II.”

James Lloyd from the US wrote: “It’s wonderful that a navy finally sent a strong message. But, I want to see more action taken either covertly or by navies and nations.”

Another posting said: “Congrats India for taking action against the Somalia-based pirates. Too bad you did not shoot up their getaway boats too and kill them all. A dead pirate cannot hijack ships! (sic)”

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