Indian Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan today said his force would not hesitate to engage Pakistani warships over a possible threat from Jihadist groups.
His comments in New Delhi come against the backdrop of terrorists attempting to hijack a Pakistan frigate in September.
He said it was customary for warships to exchange pleasantries in international waters, but if a Pakistani vessel came close to an Indian ship, it would be viewed as a possible Jihadist threat.
''Out at sea, when the officer on watch reports to the captain that we have a warship from another navy on our starboard bow, the captain tells the officer, 'wish him good morning'. But in this charged environment, we may not wish him (Pakistani warship) good morning anymore,'' Dhowan said on the eve of Navy Day, which commemorates the daring Karachi raid during the 1971 India-Pakistan war.
Terrorists had tried to hijack PNS Zulfiqar on 6 September and use it to attack US warships in the Indian Ocean. The raid at a naval base in Karachi was allegedly carried out with the help of Pakistani naval personnel, heightening fears of terrorist infiltration into the Pakistan military.
Dhowan said, ''It is a very serious incident. We have inputs that terrorism in the maritime domain is increasing. That is taken into account in our security matrix.'' Warning against the threat posed by so-called non-state actors, he said the navy had inputs of terror organisations at sea.
He said more than 2.5 lakh fishing boats operated along India's coasts and any of these could be exploited by a terror group to launch attacks against the country. ''Anyone could take guns and explosives and land on any island (in Indian territory). The threat is real,'' he said.
He said it was quite easy for terror groups to launch a strike in the given scenario, while it was an arduous task for Indian agencies to guarantee robust maritime security.
''And hence the threat in the maritime domain from terrorists, from the aspect of asymmetrical warfare, non-state actors or whatever you want to call them is a huge problem,'' Dhowan added.