Pakistan and India ended recent talks on Siachen inconclusively, but there are high hopes that talks between the arch-rivals over the disputed maritime border region of Sir Creek may end on a more positive note.
The two-day talks in the Indian capital began on Monday, led by Rear Admiral Farrukh Ahmed from Pakistan and Surveyor General of India S Subba Rao.
“They have come with an open mind. I think they are trying to be a bit flexible now. So, let us see what happens,” Rao told journalists after the first round of discussions.
The creek, which opens up to the Arabian Sea, has been one of the several points of contentions between the neighbours. India has long held that the creek boundary should be in the middle of the estuary, while Pakistan claims that the border should lie on the southeast bank. The 96-kilometre disputed area lies between the Indian state of Gujarat and Pakistan’s Sindh province.
Rear Admiral Farrukh Ahmed said it was premature to comment on the outcome of talks.
“As you can understand, we are in the 12th round of talks to find out options, to propose a way forward. As far as the resolution of the Sir Creek issue is concerned, we have had our preliminary conversation with our Indian counterparts. We have to cover some ground,” said Ahmed.
“Tomorrow, we have a complete day session. So, I believe it would be too premature at this stage, after being through the preliminaries to be able to say anything or to be able to comment on this issue,” he added.
Meanwhile, analyst Ashok Malik said there was a growing perception that a solution to the Sir Creek dispute was ‘doable’. The phrase, he said, was apparently used in the Zardari-Singh talks on April 8.
On May 14, a Pakistani delegation was supposed to arrive in Delhi and discuss the Sir Creek dispute. At the eleventh hour, however, the talks were postponed till 22 June.
The Sir Creek dispute goes back almost 100 years. The creek is a 100-km long water body that stretches from the marshes at the edge of the Rann of Kutch to the Arabian Sea. In 1913, it came to be contested between the Rao Saheb of Kutch and the chief commissioner of Sindh. There was a difference of perceptions between the Indian princely state and the British province as to the boundary between them.
During the two-day talks, Pakistan is expected to reiterate its commitment to resolving the issue keeping in view the historical perspective and in line with the content and spirit of the 1914 resolution.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.