M A I N   N E W S

Pak softening on Sir Creek
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
The chances of a bilateral resolution of the maritime border dispute between India and Pakistan on the Sir Creek issue have brightened with Islamabad’s softening its decades-old stand, sources said today.

In many ways, the Sir Creek issue is more important than other contentious issues between India and Pakistan like Siachen because while Siachen has largely military and strategic implications, the Sir Creek dispute has economic and human angle to it apart from its security and strategic overtones.

Resolution of the Sir Creek dispute would not only mean resolving the maritime dispute with Pakistan — like India has already done with Myanmar and Bangladesh — it would also mean a huge respite to fishermen of both countries who inadvertently cross over to the other side and rot in jails for years.

Besides, the Sir Creek dispute has also cast a shadow on the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Significantly, the change in the Pakistani position on Sir Creek issue has come at a time when the UN Convention on Law of The Sea has just extended its deadline by another five years till 2009 for resolving all maritime boundaries dispute. Both India and Pakistan are signatories to the Convention.

The UN Convention has also called upon parties concerned of all disputes to submit their claims by 2007 so that by 2009 these claims could be settled.

The September 8, 2004 Joint Statement issued by a India and Pakistan at the end of Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri’s India visit said the two sides had agreed to “Joint Survey of the boundary pillars in the horizontal segment (blue dotted line) of the international boundary in the Sir Creek area.”

This is a remarkable climb-down in the stand of Pakistan as Islamabad has so far been insisting on international arbitration.

The International Boundary between India and Pakistan in the State of Gujarat is made up of three segments. (i) Segment between Eastern Terminus (ET) and Western Terminus (WT). This has been settled by the Kutch Tribunal award of 1968. (ii) Segment between the Western Terminus (WT) and the head of Sir Creek. (iii) Sir Creek.

Delimitation of second and third segment of the International Boundary in Gujarat has been the subject of discussions between India and Pakistan. The differences have persisted despite several rounds of talks on the “Sir Creek” issue.

As for the second segment, in 1924 itself the erstwhile Sindh and Kutch authorities had demarcated this segment with the placement of boundary pillars, some of which can still be found. Thus, position of these pillars can be ascertained by a joint survey and alignment of the existing pillars can be used to determine the position of the boundary pillars that have to be constructed afresh.

In the demarcation of Sir Creek (third segment), the Indian position is that the centre of the navigable channel of Sir Creek should be the boundary line while Pakistan argues that the eastern Bank of Sir Creek should be the line of demarcation.

Sir Creek was part of the composite dialogue talks held in November 1998. But no progress could be made due to the negative approach adopted by Pakistan, which focused on “solution to J and K before anything else”. At the same time, Pakistan has made settlement of the land boundary in Sir Creek a prerequisite for delimitation of the International Maritime Boundary between the two countries.


India a partner in fight against
terrorism, says Rumsfeld
T. V. Parasuram

Washington, September 11
Describing India as a partner in fight against extremism in the West Asia and Central Asia, the USA has said it is updating its existing alliances based on security realities of the new century.

“Countries like Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Pakistan, India — to cite but a few examples — are now partners in the fight against extremism in the West Asia and in Central Asia,” US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said at the National Press Club here yesterday.

“We are updating our existing alliances and building new relationships based on security realities of the new century, and not the last century,” he said.

Pointing out that the terrorists were ruthless, he said: “They seek to drive our coalition out of the newly liberated countries of Afghanistan and Iraq and to re-impose dictatorial regimes. They will fail, let there be no doubt. And they are conducting a reign of terror against those who represent hope and freedom — the mayors, the city councilmen, the women who register to vote in Afghanistan.

“I am sure you all read about the bus that was stopped by some Taliban near the Pakistan border, and they went through the women’s possessions to see if they had registered to vote, and the ones that had registered to vote were killed.” He added, “No one should underestimate the powerful impact of human freedom. Today, Iraqis are among those in our globe who are allowed to say what they want and go where they want and write and watch and listen to whatever they want.”

“The assassins and the terrorists who are fighting know that the rise of a free, self-governing Afghanistan and a free, self-governing Iraq will give powerful momentum to reformers throughout the region and it will discredit their extremist ideology,” Rumsfeld said.

Expressing confidence in the victory of the USA and the allies of freedom against the terrorists, he said: “For all of the enemy’s ruthlessness, we have an enormous advantage.

“When I say ‘we,’ I don’t mean the people of the USA; I mean the people in the 85 or 90 nations across the globe that are cooperating in this effort, in this war.” — PTI



Security on high alert at US, UK embassies

New Delhi, September 11
Security personnel have been put on high alert at the embassies and other installations of the US, the UK and some other countries here today, the third anniversary of terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

Fearing that the terrorists might try to carry out a strike to mark the day, the Delhi police had mounted vigil in the entire diplomatic enclave in the Chanakyapuri area, police sources said.

Security personnel had been particularly put on high alert at and around the US Embassy, Ambassador’s residence, the American Centre, the British High Commission, the British Council and installations of Australia, as those were feared to be the main targets of the terrorists, they said.

Patrolling around the installations had also been stepped up to ensure no unscrupulous elements gained access to the venues, which were under a thick security cover since the terrorist attacks in the US three years ago.

“The security personnel deployed at these places have been sensitised and asked to remain vigilant today as there is apprehension that the terrorists may try to cause harm to these installations,” the sources said, but insisted that there was no specific warning or intelligence input. — PTI


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