India and Pakistan will hold talks on the Sir Creek issue on June 18 and 19,a week after the Defence Secretaries from the two sides discuss Siachen in New Delhi. The Siachen talks are scheduled to take place on June 11 and 12.
The Sir Creek talks initially scheduled for mid-May were postponed as Pakistan wanted Siachen to be discussed first.
New Delhis assessment was that Islamabad wanted to know how flexible India is towards demilitarising Siachen before entering into negotiations on Sir Creek. For Pakistan,resolving the Siachen issue has assumed urgency after the avalanche in April which killed 140 soldiers.
Sources said the meeting would be held between the Surveyor General from the Indian side and Additional Secretary of Defence Ministry from the Pakistan side in New Delhi. The last meeting took place in Rawalpindi on May 20 and 21 last year,which was led by Surveyor General of India S Subba Rao and Pakistan Defence Ministrys Additional Secretary Rear Admiral Shah Sohail Masood.
It is learnt that the two sides will take forward the discussions on the basis of non-papers exchanged between the two sides. The Pakistani delegation is expected to call on Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma.
While India had proposed a mid-stream formula in its proposal to resolve the dispute,Pakistan had proposed that the line of delineation should be to the east of the Creek,which effectively meant that the Sir Creek would be in Pakistans territory. Sources said that Pakistans proposal was to allow movement of non-military ships and fishermens boats,without parting with the Creek. They based their claims on the basis of a 1914 map of States of Kutch and Sindh.
In the forthcoming meeting,the Indian side will present its points since the discussions had ended with Pakistan presenting the non-paper. The Indian non-paper was presented on May 20 last year,and Pakistan had responded to it the next day, a source said.
Government sources have maintained that the Sir Creek is a doable issue and has the potential to be one of the substantive outcomes,as and when the PM visits Pakistan.