NEW DELHI: “Sir Creek is the easiest of the India-Pakistan problems to resolve. But we must see some movement on terrorism” said an Indian official, who was part of the Sir Creek talks.
India’s position, now, is that Siachen is not a standalone issue. It is linked to terrorism and action against the seven individuals who were involved in the conspiracy to bomb Mumbai.
However, despite the declarations, the Sir Creek talks made little progress on Tuesday as they seemed to be eclipsed by the political situation in Pakistan, in light of the Prime Minister’s dismissal by the Supreme Court.
Sources in the India delegation further said that the talks made little headway because Pakistan changed their sequence. “If India had yielded some space on Siachen, Pakistan may have offered a breakthrough in Sir Creek. But that didn’t happen and in any case, there were other more urgent matters to address” said a top Indian official.
The talks today were cordial and civilized with the Indian delegation being led by surveyor general of India S Subba Rao and the Pakistani side led by Rear Admiral Farukh Ahmad, additional secretary in the ministry of defence. The Pakistan delegation also met Shekhar Agarwal, additional secretary in India’s defence ministry.
“The two sides discussed the land boundary in the Sir Creek area and also delimitation of International Maritime Boundary between India and Pakistan,” said a joint statement after the talks.
“They reiterated their desire to find an amicable solution of the Sir Creek issue through sustained and result oriented dialogue,” said the statement.
Manmohan’s Pakistan visit
India watched with concern, the internal events in Pakistan on Tuesday, especially as it will throw off kilter a number of initiatives in the works, including a visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan, responding to an invitation by not just President Asif Ali Zardari but also Prime Minister Gilani.
“There was a chemistry with Gilani. Now, we just don’t know” said the official.
Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna is to visit Pakistan between July 18 and 20. Owing to the election for the President of India on July 19, this trip will have to be rescheduled slightly, but a bigger concern is that the window for the Indian PM’s visit – who is currently on a pilgrimage to Nankana Sahib as well as to Gah, his ancestral village that he has not seen since Partition – might have got narrower.
Top officials said it was not a question of whether the PM would visit Pakistan but when. Now, this will have to be completed either in September or October, because of the internal dynamics of Pakistan politics.