Pakistan calls off Sir Creek talks with India



Pakistan calls off Sir Creek talks with India Zeenews Bureau

Islamabad: Pakistan has asked India to reschedule talks on the Sir Creek border dispute which were to be held in New Delhi next week, diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

The Pakistani side has sought fresh dates later this month or in June for talks on the Sir Creek issue, the sources said.

The sources said fresh dates would be decided through diplomatic consultations.

The reasons for Pakistan's decision could not immediately be ascertained.

Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan had recently announced that representatives of the two countries would meet in New Delhi during May 14-16 to discuss the Sir Creek issue.

India and Pakistan will hold their next round of talks on the military standoff on Siachen glacier in Islamabad during June 11-12, Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said in a brief statement this evening.

According to sources, Pakistan seems keen on first having the defence secretaries level talks to assess the Indian position on Siachen Glacier dispute before it wants to reveal its own cards vis-Ă -vis Sir Creek, which both sides feel is easily doable.

The defence talks are likely on June 11, as announced by Indian Defence Minister AK Antony in Parliament earlier this week.

The next round of talks on the military standoff on Siachen glacier is scheduled for mid-June.

Representatives from Pakistan's powerful military play a key role in talks on both Sir Creek and Siachen.

Pakistan has considerably hardened its stand on the Sir Creek issue in recent months though the two sides had said they had made progress after a joint survey of the marshlands.

After 139 people were buried when an avalanche hit a high-altitude Pakistan Army camp in Siachen sector last month, several Pakistani leaders, including Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, have called for the demilitarisation of the glacier.

However, Kayani contended that India had hardened its position by seeking the demarcation of the Line of Control in the region.

Defence Minister AK Antony has said there is no change in India's stand on Siachen.

On the Sir Creek in the Rann of Kutch off India's Gujarat state, Pakistan, on the basis of a joint survey, had reworked its eastern bank, resulting in its claim extending up to the mouth of the adjoining Pir Sanai creek. This stand is not acceptable to India.

With regard to Siachen, a 72-km glacier in the Karakoram ranges in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh region, Pakistan had in the last round of meeting insisted the India also include China in the talks, as it is too close to Siachen and consequently a part to the dispute.

This has been rejected by India, which is also not agreeable to Pakistan's suggestion that the two nations withdraw their troops from the inhospitable heights.

India has been insisting that Pakistan delineate the line of control in Siachen before the troops withdrawal is discussed.

Meanwhile, the two nation's home secretaries are scheduled to meet on May 24 and 25 in Islamabad, when issues relating to terror are likely to be discussed.

This round of talks between the two nations is an effort to build upon the discussion Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April during a personal visit to Ajmer and New Delhi.

During that meeting, it was felt that the two sides need to reinforce positive momentum in trade ties by focusing their diplomatic energy on making tangible progress on less contentious issues like Sir Creek and Siachen, which could form the basis for Manmohan Singh's visit to Pakistan.

Although the Pakistani side has been insisting on a Manmohan Singh visit before the year ends, India maintains that the timing will depend on forward movement on Islamabad taking action to bring 26/11 perpetrators to justice and against 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

Ahead of Manmohan Singh's visit to Pakistan, the foreign ministers of the two nations will meet.

(With Agencies’ inputs)