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Sir Creek Boundary dispute between India Pakistan



What is Sir Creek Boundary?

Sir Creek Boundary



Sir Creek is a 96-km strip of water that is disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands. The creek, which opens into the Arabian Sea, divides the Kutch region of Gujarat and the Sindh province of Pakistan.

What is Harami Nala?

Harami Nala is a marshy, sluggish and shallow water channel, spread over 500 sq km in Kutch, in the Sir Creek region, where both Indian and Pakistani fishermen sail to catch the prized variety of fishes, and at times get caught by the Costal guards of either country and spend years in Jail.

Why is Sir Creek in news?

  • On 19th June 2012, India and Pakistan failed to make any headway on their maritime boundary dispute in the Sir Creek region at the 12th round of the talks.
  • The Indian delegation was led by Surveyor General of India.
  • Talks on Siachen Glacier also failed to make any progress. Both the countries had reiterated their positions on the issue.


Pakistani Claim

Pakistan claims the creek lies in its territory; with the international border falling on the east of the creek. Since 2011, it has extended its claim to Pir Sanai Creek. The landmass separating Pir Sanai from Sir Creek has disappeared, it says, and the mouths of the two water bodies have “almost merged”.

Indian Claim

The creek should be divided between the two countries along the thalweg or the main navigable channel.


Since Indian naval assets use Pir Sanai, it is not thrilled about Pakistan’s latest claim either.

History

  • After the Indo-Pak was of 1965, a UN tribunal was formed to settle the  border between Sindh and Kutch.
  • Till 1968, India and Pakistan were providing competing histories of the region.
  • In arguments made at the UN tribunal, India claims that Kutch was a well-defined entity. The Raos of Kutch only paid tribute to imperial powers, first Mughal, then British.
  • Pakistan uses different colonial sources to say the Kutch never had an existence of its own, that the rulers of Sindh had invaded and occupied parts of the Rann in the 18th century, and that the whole breadth of the Rann was the boundary between Kutch and Sindh.
  • In spite of this historical nebulosity, the tribunal supported India’s claim to 90 per cent of the Rann, fixed the land border up to a point called the Western Terminus, but left the westernmost part of the border fluid. This includes the stretch of water under Sir Creek, now under dispute.
  • India and Pakistan are said to have been close to an agreement in 2007; the two sides had reportedly exchanged maps that matched. The process was derailed by the 26/11 attacks and it was not until 2011 that talks started again.


Solution

  • If Sir Creek is to be treated as a water border, it must be divided according to international laws that govern such boundaries. Under such laws, the international boundary in a navigable river lies along the thalweg.
  • But application of international laws becomes difficult in terrains that constantly change shape.
  • In marshy areas like the Rann, landmasses emerge and slip back into water. The joint survey held by India and Pakistan held in 2007 claimed Sir Creek had shifted nearly 1.5 km eastwards.


Conclusion

  • The resolution of the Sir Creek dispute would have resonances in larger economic and strategic matters.
  • The boundary at the creek would have a direct bearing on maritime borders between India and Pakistan, determining the exclusive economic zone of each country in the Arabian Sea.
  • Solving Sir Creek has also been held up as a first step to the resolution of graver border conflicts between India and Pakista