India cancels maritime talks with Pakistan over Kulbhushan Jadhav row
Amid row over death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadhav, India has called off the Indo-Pak maritime security dialogue it was to host next week.
A delegation of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) was to visit New Delhi on April 16-19 to discuss issues related to fishermen of both the countries, who are arrested for trespassing, and search and rescue operations with the Indian Coast Guard.
Coast Guard sources said the Ministry of Defence has not given clearance for the delegation's visit.
The development comes amid tensions between the two countries over Jadhav, a former Indian naval officer, being awarded death sentence by a Pakistani military court.
India has said if Jadhav were to be executed, it will be considered as a "premeditated murder".
As per an MoU signed between maritime security agencies of India and Pakistan in 2006, coast guard delegations of the two countries would visit each other every year.
Last July, a three-member delegation of the Indian Coast Guard, headed by Director General Rajendra Singh, had visited Pakistan to discuss maritime issues between the two countries.
"This was to be a reciprocal visit by a delegation of PMSA headed by their DG," a senior Coast Guard official said.
The move to call off the dialogue is said to be the first among many steps that New Delhi is taking to "isolate" Pakistan in the backdrop of tensions arising over the death sentence to Jadhav on charges of spying.
A Pakistan military court had on April 10 sentenced Jadhav to death in a secret trial for alleged involvement in "espionage and sabotage activities" in restive Balochistan and Karachi.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh on Saturday said the government was taking all measures to gain consular access to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav despite Pakistan denying it "13 times".
"Pakistan government has denied consular access to Jadhav despite India trying for 13 times. We are trying everything to to get access to Jadhav," he said talking to reporters.
Singh maintained that Jadhav was abducted from Iran.
India had on Friday said it would appeal against the death sentence and demanded from Pakistan a certified copy of the charge-sheet as well as the army court order in the case, besides seeking consular access to the retired Indian navy officer.