Combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia
The Government on Friday announced a four-pronged strategy – including establishment of an inter-ministerial group, naval cooperation with friendly countries in the Gulf of Aden and intensifying diplomatic efforts – to counter the menace posed by pirates taking hostage of Indian ships and seafarers on the high seas.
Making a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha immediately after the question hour, the Union External Affairs Minister, Mr S.M. Krishna, said the Cabinet Committee on Security met earlier in the day and approved a series of measures to address the “legal, administrative and operational aspects of combating piracy” in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.
Stating that a broad policy framework covering all these aspects was approved, he said this would entail actions in the medium and long term by the Ministries of Shipping, External Affairs and Defence.
Mr Krishna said the Committee discussed the immediate situation arising out of Indians held hostage by pirates. It noted that currently 53 Indian seafarers are in captivity on five different ships, and expressed its sympathy for their families and resolved to take the necessary action to safeguard their welfare.
Accordingly, it said, the Government would intensify diplomatic efforts through consultations with the governments of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the ship owners concerned live, as well as the governments of the other nationalities held hostage, besides stepping up diplomatic efforts both at the multilateral level and within the framework of the United Nations.
Second, he said, it would step up contacts with the ship owners concerned. Third, an inter-ministerial Group would be set up under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary to act as an apex forum at the Government of India level to monitor the early release of Indian ships, cargo and crew.
The Group would also consider the welfare measures warranted after securing the release of the Indian hostages. Finally, suitable standard operating procedures would be framed for the Indian Navy and for its coordination with the Navies of friendly countries in the Gulf of Aden.
The Leader of the Opposition, Ms Sushma Swaraj, while thanking the Government for announcing a series of anti-piracy operations suggested that the Government should also seek the UN Security Council intervention and get access to the funds provided by the UN Security Council Anti-piracy Resolutions in order to effectively meet the threat of piracy.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Minister of State for External Affairs, Ms Preneet Kaur, also made a similar statement.
Source: Hindu Business