KARACHI: The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) in the early hours on Friday morning took into custody four fishing boats of India near Sir Creek, 10-15 nautical miles inside Pakistani waters.
Commander Farooq, mission in-charge of the exercise, addressing a press conference this morning, said 23 crew members of the vessels, apparently fishermen, were arrested during the exercise.
“We cannot overrule possible involvement of these boats in false flag operations,” said Commander Farooq, reiterating that it could have been a risk for national security.
The deputy director general, headquarters PMSA, Commodore Jawad Ahmed Qureshi was also present on the occasion.
Commander Farooq said two fast-response boats of PMSA were used in the clandestine operation to intercept the boats, manned by the crew that apparently were fishermen.
Over 20 Indian crew members held
These men were said to have adopted evasive manoeuvre to avert getting apprehended.
As for the mission itself, he said it was based on information about presence of Indian boats operating near Pakistan-India borders with all chances of their entering Pakistani waters.
The official said it was on basis of reliable information that extensive patrolling along the border was initiated through active involvement of agency’s ships and fast-response boats besides its aircraft to keep strict vigilance and update presence of any suspected vessel.
During last two days, PMSA had carried out extensive surveillance and search of the area reported to be registered with suspicious activities, said the official.
Mentioning that it was around 3am on Friday that presence of suspected boats was noticed within a few nautical miles of the international maritime boundary line, ie inside Pakistani waters, he added that the agency started with its search operation despite rough sea conditions.
Responding to a query, Commander Farooq said investigation would be undertaken by concerned security organs, so as to establish the exact identity of the apprehended Indians and their actual intent for operating in Pakistani waters.
“After investigation and if found clear, the Indian citizens will be handed to the Docks police for required legal formalities,” said the official.
It was also mentioned that Indian fishermen, as a practice, also intrude into Pakistan’s Indus Delta region containing high-quality fish at the cost of the livelihood of local fishermen.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2020