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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2733

India-Pak talks another inconclusie round

By Allabaksh - Syndicate Features

India and Pakistan have agreed to carry out a five-month survey, from November 2006 to March 2007, in the Sir Creek area, which, it is believed, will pave the way for demarcation of the boundary in the big marshy-cum-desert area that separates Gujarat from the Pakistani province of Sindh. Officials of the two countries expressed optimism about ending their differences over Sir Creek after a two-day meeting in Delhi late in May. But such is the history of Indo-Pak relations that no hope of a final resolution of the differences over Sir Creek should be entertained till it is actually achieved.

Just before the hydrographers of the two countries met to discuss the Sir Creek issue, a ‘dialogue’ took place to resolve the differences over the Siachen border. Both sides had failed to arrive at any mutually acceptable solution. The Siachen disagreement remains, and at the moment looks unlikely to be resolved in the near future, despite another round of bilateral talks that is scheduled in Pakistan.

India and Pakistan disagree on where exactly lies the land and maritime boundary in Sir Creek and only a few years ago they had fought a war over Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield. Sir Creek falls in the area known as the Rann of Kutch which was the scene of a big battle during the 1965 war, one of the many military adventures of Pakistan against India.

One difference between the two boundary issues is that Sir Creek does not have the kind of strategic importance that Siachen commands and that is why it might be possible to resolve the Sir Creek question with comparative ease, perhaps by the middle of next year.

It is, however, be wrong to assume that Sir Creek is a useless expanse of marshland and India should show its ‘magnanimity’ towards Pakistan in conceding what Islamabad wants. Pakistan has been laying claim to the entire Sir Creek, not necessarily for its salt pits but for hogging future discoveries of natural resources since oil and gas in the area are said to exist in the area.

Pakistan rejects the Indian suggestion of demarcating the international boundary in the middle of the 100-km estuary but wants the boundary towards the southeast, on Indian land. That, if nothing else will bring Pakistan closer to the Gujarati terra firma and further helps its clandestine missions to smuggle into India men on nefarious missions.

The Pakistani designs in Siachen are clear: Grab the territory vacated by India and become a constant threat to the Ladakh region. Pakistan has flatly refused to give any legal shape to the positions held by the Indian forces. Once the Indian troops are out of the heights they occupy now, the Pak forces will move in quickly. Military experts are unanimous that Indian troops will find it very difficult to recapture the Siachen area once the Pakistanis take it. More over, India will not be able to complain, as there will be no mutually agreed and approved document on the present position of its troops in Siachen.

Basically the problem in resolving differences over Siachen relates to a lack of trust. They say that once bitten twice shy. India has been bitten so many times by Pakistan that it has to be always shy of accepting any Pak proposal concerning its strategic interests. The government is said to have almost made up its mind to withdraw troops from Siachen but for the stiff objections raised by the armed forces. If true, it is surprising that the civilian rulers refuse to learn lessons from the past and are keen to forgive and forget all the Pakistani acts of perfidy that have cost hundreds of Indian lives.

Sitting cheek by jowl with Siachen is Kargil. It was only six years ago that the Pak army, under its present president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, had surreptitiously crept up the Kargil hills even as the then civilian head of the government was serenading the Indian prime minister with friendship songs in Lahore after the latter’s ‘historic’ ‘bus yatra’ from Amritsar. As a prelude to the war in Kargil, Musharraf had instructed his army’s secret service to down Indian fighter planes and publicised it as a heroic act of the ‘freedom fighters’. Musharraf cannot deny the charge because the Indian intelligence agencies had intercepted a telephonic conversation about the downing of Indian planes, between Musharraf (then in Beijing on a mission to elicit Chinese support against India) and one of his trusted commanders back home.

The Pakistanis are also in the habit of spreading lies and broadcasting them as loudly as they can with the help of the western media whenever they are caught with their pants down. An Atlantique plane of the Pakistani navy had intruded into Indian territory over the Rann of Kutch. The Atlantique is a sophisticated plane, used by NATO and carries an array of missiles, mines and anti-submarine depth chargers. The one that was hovering over India in May 2004 also had a full compliment of 16-member crew. When it was shot for refusing to heed to Indian warnings Pakistan launched a diatribe against India for killing ‘civilians’ who were allegedly riding the plane. Islamabad took the matter to the international court—and lost the case.

It is not that only Indians or the Indian army lacks trust in Musharraf. The West does not trust him either, though circumstances seem to force his acceptance or rather indispensability for the duration of the so-called war on terror. Even within his own country, Musharraf does not enjoy a reputation for keeping his words. He has refused to doff his uniform and is now busy in manipulating another five-year term for himself while at the same time ensuring that the leaders of the two main mainstream political parties are kept out of the race whenever he orders the next general elections.

- Syndicate Features -

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