Pak, India Close To Conclude A Pact On Sir Creek: Kasuri

29 September 2008

Islamabad: Pakistan and India are close to concluding an agreement on the Sir Creek maritime boundary dispute, which has been hanging fire for decades, with all issues having been resolved, former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has said. 'On Sir Creek, President (Asif Ali) Zardari and (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh could sign an agreement tomorrow as a lot of work has been done,' Kasuri told Geo News in an interview. The joint map and joint survey has been done and there are no more issues to be resolved between the countries, he said. Kasuri's remarks assume significance as President Asif Ali Zardari in his address to the National Assembly had stated that Islamabad and New Delhi could resolve issues like Sir Creek and Siachen at the earliest. Kasuri, a close confidant of former President Pervez Musharraf, claimed '70 to 80 per cent' of issues related to the military standoff between the two countries on the Siachen glacier had also been resolved. Referring to India's demand for authentication of troop positions on Siachen ahead of the final solution of the issue, he said Pakistan had turned down this proposal as it would have meant accepting India's 'aggression'. However, he said both countries had found a way to meet their 'basic agreements' without resorting to authentication of troop positions. He did not give details. Replying to a question on the Composite Dialogue process between Pakistan and India, Kasuri said there was a 'lot of progress' in resolving the Kashmir dispute as New Delhi had shown flexibility on the issue. He said there was a need for 'political will' to settle the issue. Progress on the Kashmir issue and the Composite Dialogue had been hampered by domestic political developments in the two countries, Kasuri said. He dismissed contention that India did not have the will to settle the Kashmir dispute, pointing out that both countries had held intense back channel consultations and exchanged non-papers on the issue. Further progress on the Kashmir issue would now be possible only after General Election in India in 2009, he said. However, President Asif Ali Zardari is a political figure and it would therefore be easy for him to move forward on the issue, he added.