Ready for a Marsh Mellow?
There is a rising din that the Sir Creek dispute is a low-hanging fruit ripe for plucking. But the ground reality belies any such optimism, says
EVER SINCE Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari travelled to New Delhi and Ajmer on Easter Sunday and invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Islamabad, there has been speculation in New Delhi about the political content of a possible Indian prime ministerial visit. Will agreements be signed? Will long-standing issues be resolved?
While much of the focus has been on the Siachen Glacier, there is a growing perception that the Sir Creek dispute is “doable”. The phrase was apparently used in the Zardari- Singh conversation on 8 April. On 14 May, a Pakistani delegation was supposed to arrive in Delhi and discuss the Sir Creek dispute. At the 11th hour, it announced a postponement to 22 June.
Ironically, this deferring of dates was seen as an indicator of Sir Creek’s “doability”. The Siachen talks begin on 11 June. Pakistan is keen on demilitarisation, which would amount to India conceding altitudinal and strategic advantage. Islamabad, analysts suggest, is holding the more “doable” Sir Creek agreement hostage till New Delhi agrees to a Siachen agreement on its terms. The assumption is the Indian side will be desperate for some sort of settlement to showcase before the prime minister crosses the Wagah border.
There are two issues. First, do Manmohan Singh and the UPA government have the domestic political capital to push