New Delhi: Pakistan has been beefing up its infrastructure in the disputed Sir Creek region near the international border in Gujarat, according to at least two news reports this week. This comes at a time when India ceased its own infrastructure-building activities in its own territory after Islamabad raised objections.
According to the reports published in the New Indian Express and Asianet Newsable quoting anonymous government sources, Pakistani marines are building a barrack in Rah-de-Pir, which is just over two kilometres from the Pakistani bank of the disputed creek. The reports also said the barrack can house 64 personnel. Quoting the source further, the reports also said the Pakistani marines are also erecting a tent opposite the G-22 border pillar on the Indian side.
Readers may note that India’s Border Security Force stopped construction of infrastructure in the “Maurya Bet” area, which was earlier known as Samudra Bet and falls well within Indian territory, after Pakistan objected to it and started aggressive posturing in the area by deploying fast-moving attack crafts and speedboats on the creek.
The Centre had sanctioned ₹50 crore for beefing up its security infrastructure in the area, in February, which was to be completed in March. However, the project remains stalled, as of now.
According to the two reports citing the source, not only Pakistan continues to upgrade its security infrastructure in the disputed area despite India having stopped doing so, but it is also regularly deploying drones to monitor the BSF’s activities there.
It may be noted that the BSF is tasked with guarding the entire 2,300-kilometre international boundary with Pakistan from the salty marshlands of the Rann of Kutch through the international border in Rajasthan and Punjab to the point the international border ends in Jammu and the LoC begins.
The latest Pakistani activities in the Sir Creek area is likely to start a new round of diplomatic and military tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad.
Sir Creek dispute
The Sir Creek dispute is a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over a 98-kilometre creek in a marshy and uninhabited region in the Rann of Kutch along the border of India’s Gujarat state and Pakistan’s Sindh province.
The dispute is over the interpretation of the maritime boundary between the two countries in the area. Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over the creek and the adjoining waters. The main point of contention is the exact location of the boundary line in the creek and its estuary, which determines the respective maritime rights of the two countries.
Pakistan claims the entire strip of water while India says the boundary should be demarcated from the middle of the strip along its length.
The dispute is a legacy from the Partition in 1947 when the boundary between the newly created India and Pakistan was not clearly demarcated in the creek area. Both countries have different interpretations of the boundary based on historical, legal, and geographical factors.
Over the years, India and Pakistan have engaged in several rounds of negotiations and discussions to resolve the Sir Creek dispute. These efforts have involved the exchange of maps, surveys, and field visits to the disputed area. However, the two countries have, so far, failed to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve the dispute.