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Don't hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan, Modi tells PM

PTI [ Updated 13 Dec 2012, 09:47:18 ]
Don't hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan, Modi tells PM
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Ahmedabad, Dec 13 : Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has sked the Prime Minister to stop dialogue with Pakistan at once on the Sir Creek issue and demanded that it should not be handed over to the neighbouring nation.



"I am writing on a serious issue of talks being held on Sir Creek being handed over to Pakistan.

Any attempt to hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan would be a strategic blunder considering the history and sensitivity of the region," Modi has written in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I would earnestly request you to stop this dialogue with Pakistan at once and Sir Creek should not be handed over to Pakistan," Modi further wrote in the letter.

"Due to the election code of conduct, Modi wrote the letter as a concerned citizen and not as a chief minister of a state," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman said while giving details of the letter at a press conference here.

"I am writing to you at this juncture as I was told that a decision is being taken on Sir Creek issue on December 15," Modi said in the letter.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Rehman Malik is likely to visit India on December 14-16.

"Sir Creek has been settled 100 years back between rulers of Kutch and Sindh. Even the tribunal verdict in 1968 headed by the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson shows Pakistan getting only 10 per cent of its claim of 9,000 sq kms of this border area," Modi further mentioned.

"Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will totally open up Gujarat border with Pakistan. I was given to understand that recently Pakistan carried out a joint operation of their army, airforce and navy code named Sea-spark-12, almost one month ago very near to Sir Creek," Modi said.

Sitaraman said BJP as a party supports the view of Modi on the issue. However, she evaded a question on how Modi came to know that the Central Government was planning to hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan.

Sir Creek is marshy water body along the India- Pakistan border, which is disputed and the two countries are bilaterally discussing the issue for quite a long time.

"Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will give them more control over the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the sea. This will be a permanent threat to fishermen of Saurashtra and Kutch area and also to the vital installations and major industrial installations like refineries and ports," Modi said.

"Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will endanger our energy security as Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat has vast potential of oil and gas both off shore and onshore," Modi said.

Modi further said in the letter, "At no point in the entire process has the Government of Gujarat been consulted. In a similar case of Teesta agreement with Bangladesh, West Bengal Chief Minister was consulted and the agreement was cancelled," Modi said.

"I would request you to stop taking any decision on this crucial issue on December 15th. After the elections are over in Gujarat, I shall seek your time to discuss this issue with you," Modi said in the letter.

Modi has written the letter to the Prime Minister on the eve of polling for the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections, to be held tomorrow at 87 Assembly seats.

In Delhi, the Prime Minister's Office rubbished Modi's claim that Sir Creek was being "handed over" to Pakistan, saying the baseless charges were "mischievous" and motives questionable as these came on the eve of polls in the state.

Responding to Modi's letter, the PMO dubbed as "unsubstantiated allegations" its contents about discussions with Pakistan on the Sir Creek issue.

"The contents of the letter and the timing of its release to the public, even before it was formally received in this (PMO) office, raise questions about the motives behind its issue," the PMO said in a statement.

"The writing and release of this baseless letter by the Chief Minister of Gujarat in his "personal" capacity, a day before elections in the state, is mischievous," the PMO said.

It said the allegation in the letter that Sir Creek is "about to be given to Pakistan is untrue. Therefore, the other conclusions drawn by Shri Modi from this alleged fact are also not real."

Taking a dig at Modi, the PMO said, "it also seems that Shri Modi has written his letter without making any efforts to ascertain the facts from the Government of India."

The PMO reminded Modi that the discussions on Sir Creek have been carried out by successive Governments of India since the dialogue process began in 1998, and continued after the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Lahore in 1999.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram termed as "ridiculous" the suggestion that India was handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan and asserted that nobody was going to give it to the neighbouring country.

"Nobody is giving away Sir Creek to Pakistan. But I don't know anything about the letter," Chidambaram said.

"If anybody is suggesting that India is handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan, then it is a ridiculous suggestion," Chidambaram said.



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