India Security and Border Managment IAS Target

India Security and Border Managment

31 Jul 2020

Category : Security

Topic: India Security and Border Managment


The traditional view of security focus on the application of force at the state level and was therefore a fairly narrow view, hinging on military security. It is now widely acknowledged that there is more to security than purely military factors. Today’s definition of security acknowledges political, economic, environmental, social and human among other strands that impact the concept of security. In the most basic terms, the concern for security of the lowest common denominator of every society, namely the ‘human being’, has resulted in the development of the concept of ‘human security’, which focuses on the individual. Therefore, the definition of security is definitely broad – and is related to the ability of the state to perform the function of protecting the well-being of its people. This formulation harks back to the days of Chanakya and Arthashastra. However, the problem with such a broad definition of security is that anything that generates anxiety or threatens the quality of life gets labelled as a ‘security problem’, with a consequent loss of focus. In a democracy, it is for the elected government to provide this priority and focus, as only after this, a coherent National Security Strategy can be articulated.
India shares border with Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. All over world, most conflict-free borders are those which are geographical and have been there from the times immemorial. Here Civilizations settled on either side of geographical barriers like river or mountain ranges and limited exchange takes place from very beginning. Other boundaries are political ones and they bear historical burden as is the case of India with neighbors like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal etc. There has been a common historical cultural flow on either side of the border and as a result there are claims or counter claims. This doesn’t imply that natural boundaries are always undisputed, river often changes their course in long term and this river can result into fluctuation of political boundaries. Further, in case of Mountain ranges, a state with expansionist designs (as China is) can exert its claim unilaterally, resulting into tense situations. It is pertinent to note that these areas between china and India were once inaccessible, but technological advancements have not only made them accessible, but also strategically important. To guard borders efficiently, it is pre required that borders are agreed/delineated between the neighbors. Also, a state with malicious intent can willfully dispute border to trouble its neighbor country to hamper its progress and to derail its growth.
In Indian case borders are quite complex and almost every type of extreme geography is present at different borders viz. deserts, fertile lands, swampy marshes or tropical evergreen jungles. With a continent of sub-continental proportions, India occupies a major strategic position in Southern Asia and governs the northern Indian Ocean with a coastline that is more than 7500 km long, and an Exclusive Economic Zone that is over two million square km in size. India's land borders also around 15,000 km which it shares with seven countries including a small segment with Afghanistan (106 km) in northern Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

  • India has 14818 kilometers of land borders
  • Coast line of India around 7516.6 kilometers.
  • All states of India except Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana, Delhi and Haryana have an international border or a coast line.
  • 92 of India’s 593 districts are border districts in 17 states.

India’s boundary with neighbouring countries:

India Share border with
Pakistan 3323 kms
China 3488 kms
Nepal 1751 kms
Bhutan 699 kms
Myanmar 1643 kms
Bangladesh 4096 kms

Border management becomes more important for the fact that India is like island of democracy between seas of anarchical or instable states. Probably, no other neighbouring country has experienced uninterrupted democratic regime for more than 15 years. Additionally, in some countries there is cultural radicalism which is targeted on India, and terrorists and mafia groups are patronized by some of India’s neighbouring states. There is cross border smuggling problem of drugs, cattle, humans, artifacts, fake currency note etc. Unfortunately, in this scenario our border forces appear to be severely undermanned and under-equipped which is taking heavy toll on economic, social and political stability of our country.
Governments of numerous nations make huge investment and provide good support for the border security. Still, border and maritime security continues to present challenges to governments around the world. The proper management of borders presents many challenges and includes coordination and concerted action by administrative, diplomatic, security, intelligence, legal, regulatory and economic agencies of the country to secure the frontiers and sub serve its best interests. It has been established by security experts that good management of borders is extremely important for national safety. In India, borders are extended to different portions which create many issues and these issues must be appropriately addressed. These problems have become intensified currently with Pakistan's policy of cross- border terrorism, along with its strongly hostile anti-India publicity designed to misinformed and power the reliabilities of the border population.

The Department of Border Management was created in the Ministry of Home Affairs in January, 2004 to pay focused attention to the issues:

  • relating to management of international land and coastal borders,
  • strengthening of border policing and safeguarding,
  • creation of infrastructure like roads, fencing and flood lighting of borders and
  • implementation of Border Area Development Programme.

The term border management must be understood in its broadest sense and should infer co-ordination and concentrated action by political leadership and administrative, diplomatic, security, intelligence, legal, regulatory and economic agencies of the country to secure Indian boundaries the best interests of the country. Numerous factors like:
  • Globalisation,
  • Media Uprising and
  • Technological Development in various fields have hugely impacted the border management framework.

Now more comprehensive planning is needed to attain peace and progress on borders. Geocenterality of India and the fear of the smaller neighbouring States of India's size, economic resources and military strength has impacted on communal relations. Without peaceful borders with its neighbours, India can hardly play its appropriate role in global matters at this time of seminal global change. Currently, there are many problems on the border management regardless of the security measures in order to combat cross border terrorism.
The theory of border security has changed with the increasing vulnerability of the coastline and also of the airspace. The offenders, with unprecedented money power, access to modern technology, organisational strength, manoeuvrability and scope for strategic alliances with other compatible groups, can choose their theatre of action for surprise attacks. While land borders have from time to time received Government's attention mainly because of the wars with Pakistan and China and the problems of insurgence, illegal migration from Bangladesh and smuggling actions. Rebellious groups in various parts of the country are receiving foreign support and inspiration. All this activities emphasises the need for extreme vigilance on the borders and strengthening the border guarding militaries.

In India, when reviewing thoroughly management of borders, the Kargil Review Committee had concerned about not only land borders but also safety of coastal areas and airspace. In 2001, ‘Group of Ministers on review of border management’ gave many important recommendations.
  • One of the major recommendations was the setting up of a separate Department of Border Management within the Ministry of Home Affairs. This has been done.
  • Yet other major recommendations like:
    • the early settlement of our maritime borders
    • the demarcation of land boundaries has not yet been fully implemented.

  • The GoM had strongly recommended the principle of “one border one force” for better accountability and specialization.
  • It emphasized the imperative of not deploying the border guarding forces for law and order duties and counter insurgencies.
  • It made some recommendations specific to better management of India-Pakistan, India-Nepal and other borders.
  • It lamented the neglect of maritime borders and island territories and made recommendations to strengthen coast guard and police. As a result of these recommendations border management has got more attention but the Mumbai terrorist attacks had again shown that a lot more needs to be done to improve border management.

External threats to India's security are not the only border management issue to be dealt with at present by the national security apparatus. India's rate of growth has far outperformed that of most of its neighbours which has created peculiar problems such as:
  • Mass immigrations into India.
  • Augmented cross-border terrorism.
  • Penetration and ex-filtration of armed militants.
  • Emergence of non-state actors.
  • Link between narcotics and arms smugglers.
  • Unlawful migrations.
  • Left-wing radicalism.
  • Separatist movements aided and abetted by external powers.
  • Establishment of madrasas, which could result in security hazards.
  • Smugglers, drug-traffickers are often in association with local offenders, lower rung political leaders and police officials.

India-Bangladesh security challenges and land-boundary agreement
  • The border running between Bangladesh and India that demarcates the eight divisions of Bangladesh and the Indian states.
  • India shares 4096.7 Km of its land border with Bangladesh.
  • West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram are the States which share the border with Bangladesh.
  • The entire stretch consists of plain, riverine, hilly/jungle and with hardly any natural obstacles, including 262 km in Assam, 856 km in Tripura, 180 km in Mizoram, 443 km in Meghalaya, and 2,217 km in West Bengal.
  • A number of pillars mark the border between the two states.
  • Small demarcated portions of the border are fenced on both sides.

The Land Boundary Agreement to simplify the border was ratified by both India and Bangladesh on 7 May 2015. Various issues associated with India-Bangladesh border:
  • Illegal movement of people from Bangladesh into India, especially in Assam, West Bengal and Tripura is a perennial problem.
  • There are around two crore illegal migrants staying in India.
  • The porous nature of the border have also made it easy for Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs) to cross over into Bangladesh, where they have set up safe houses and training camps.
  • Activities including smuggling of arms, human and narcotics trafficking, counterfeiting Indian currency etc. are also quite rampant.
  • The border also faces the unique problem of smuggling of cattle, readymade garments and food grains.

The Indian Government has taken following measures to address these Issues:

Border Security Force Border Security Force is responsible for effective domination and round the clock surveillance of International Border with Bangladesh.
Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) The Ministry of Home Affairs is in the process of deploying a Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) through integration of radars, sensors, cameras, communication networks and command and control solutions
BOLD-QITAs Part of CIBMS, BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) has been operationalized at the reverine border at Dhubri, Assam between India and Bangladesh.
Other Security measures Up-gradation of intelligence network, improved border infrastructure through fencing, floodlighting, patrol roads etc.
Diplomatic measures A three-tier bilateral institutional mechanism was set up between India and Bangladesh in 1994 to resolve security and border management issues. In July, 2011, a Co-ordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) was signed between the two countries for proper management of International border.
Developmental measures Various developmental works in the border areas have been undertaken by the MHA under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) as part of a comprehensive approach to the border management. India is taking security, diplomatic and developmental measures to manage this difficult border. Further, effective border management requires the involvement and cooperation of the local people as well as sustainable cooperation mechanisms with Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has settled all its border disputes with India peacefully and improved ties with its closest neighbour. In 1974, barely 3 years after liberation of Bangladesh that the Indira-Mujibur Agreement laid down the methods for demarcating various disputed stretches of the India-Bangladesh boundary. This also called ‘Land Boundary Agreement’ and, India and Bangladesh, both the countries committed to exchange the enclaves and cede the adverse possessions. "India and Bangladesh mutually and peacefully settled land border disputes, exchanged long pending enclaves and resolved various other issues. Agartala was the war capital of the nine-month-long war that created a sovereign Bangladesh from Pakistan. 10 million men, women and children from the then East Pakistan took shelter in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya. Operation Cactus Lily was launched on December 3, 1971 by the Indian Army in East Pakistan.

India-Bhutan border Issue

India and Bhutan share a 669 km long boundary. The boundary is demarcated except along the tri-junction with China. The process of demarcation of the India-Bhutan border started in 1961 and was completed in 2006. Like with Nepal, India’s boundary with Bhutan is also an open boundary. The border was peaceful till Indian insurgent groups established camps in the southern districts of Bhutan. This problem has been effectively dealt with during the Bhutanese government’s ‘Operation All Clear’, which saw the destruction and uprooting of all insurgent camps in Bhutanese territory. Chinese made goods, Bhutanese cannabis, liquor and forest products are major items smuggled into India. Livestock, grocery items and fruits are smuggled out of India to Bhutan.

India-Nepal border and security issues

India and Nepal have shared an open border since 1950. The topic of the border with India is a hot-button issue in Nepal; many feels that the current border does not protect Nepali sovereignty. There are a couple swathes of land that both countries claim. Nepalese are conscious of the fact they lost nearly a third of their land to the British Raj in the 1816 Sugauli Treaty.
Two areas in particular strike a chord in Nepal:
  • Kalapani
    Kalapani, which is where India, China, and Nepal meet, has a strategic military position and has been held by India’s Indo-Tibetan border security forces since the 1962 war with China. The Mahakali River defines the border in Kalapani, but India and Nepal each claim the river originates in different places, thus the conflict.

  • Susta
    In eastern Susta, the Narayani river forms the Indian-Nepali border. Here, again, Nepalese are sensitive to the perceived threat to their sovereignty. India and Nepal shared open boundaries. The conception of such a border can be found in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship that the two countries signed that year.
    Provisions in the treaty, wherein:
    • citizens of both countries are given equal rights in matters of residence,
    • acquisition of property,
    • employment
    • movement in each other’s territory,
    • provide for an open border between the two countries.

While open border has been a great facilitator of strong and unique bilateral relations. However open border also cause irritant between India-Nepal relations:
  • Allegations of excesses such as intimidation, and forcible grabbing of land by either side along the disputed border also surface from time to time.
  • All terrorist organizations, be it from Punjab, Kashmir, northeast or those of Maoists have fully exploited open borders with Nepal. It has been reported that many terrorists have sneaked into India through the porous and poorly guarded Indo-Nepal border.
  • Apart from insurgents and terrorists, many hard-core criminals pursued by Indian and Nepalese security forces escape across the open border.
  • These anti-national elements indulge in illegal activities, such as smuggling of essential items and fake Indian currency, gun-running, and drugs and human trafficking.
  • The problem is further aggravated by intelligence inputs that Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been using Nepalese territory to carry out anti-India activities since the 990s. Many security papers and documents have revealed that the ISI has created a number of terrorist fronts in Nepal and has also pushed in men and explosives through the border to carry out terror attacks in India.
In recent times, police forces have achieved some success in capturing all types of criminals from these borders. This shows that cooperation from Nepal is increasing in this regard. Nepal is a landlocked country and its closest access to the sea is through India. As a result most of its imports pass through India. Keeping this in consideration, India has granted Nepal transit and trading points along the border.

India-Myanmar border challenges

Origin of border problem between India and Myanmar The formation of Myanmar as a separate State in 1935 and decolonisation of the sub-continent in 1947 divided ethnic communities living along the Indo-Myanmar border. These communities, particularly Nagas, found the newly created boundary to be inconsistent with the traditional limits of the region they inhabited. And they felt a deep sense of insecurity as they became ethnic minorities on both sides of the border.
Free Movement Regime The people living in the Eastern districts of Nagaland and in the areas of Myanmar have close family ties and engage in cultural and economic exchanges. In some instances, the imaginary border line even cuts across houses, land and villages. People living on the either side completely dependent on each other for their livelihood and cross border to buy basic essentials. Therefore the Indian and Myanmarese governments established the Free Movement Regime (FMR), which allowed Nagas to travel 16 kilometres across the border on either side without any visa requirements. Taking advantage of the FMR, a sizeable number of students from NSAZ also study in schools on the Indian side of the border.
Issues with FMR
  • The FMR has been misused by locals to smuggle contraband in their head loads, which are not subject to inspection.
  • Militant groups have been using the porous border for moving cadres and arms.
  • Along with other active Indian insurgent groups, the NSCN-Khaplang (NSCN-K), which had unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire with the Government of India (GoI) in 2015, maintains its camps and training bases in Myanmar.
  • All these groups carry out illegal activities including launching strikes against Indian security forces and returning to their safe havens in Myanmar.
  • The location of the boundary at the edge of the “Drugs golden triangle” facilitates the unrestricted illegal flows of drugs into Indian territory. Heroin is the main item of drug trafficking. The bulk of heroin enters India through the border town of Moreh in Manipur. It is reported that the local insurgent groups are actively involved in drugs and arms trafficking.
  • China has also been reportedly aiding some of these groups.
  • Policing such a large area marked by harsh terrain and dense forest is difficult.
Impact of the Fence Construction along the Border
  • The ongoing activity of fence construction along the Indo- Mynamr has triggered apprehensions among the people living on either side of the border. The affected people inhabit the areas of Eastern Nagaland in India and the Naga Self-Administered Zone (NSAZ) in Myanmar.
  • It would deprive them of the produce from their land and forest resources.
  • From the security perspective, possible anti-establishment sentiments could destroy the peace along the Indo Myanmar border.
Steps to address India-Myanmar border challenges and apprehensions among people:
  • steps need to taken in order to establish trust and confidence amongst the affected populace.
  • Tripartite talks involving the local stakeholders via state government, the Myanmarese government and the GoI could be organised to address extant concerns. also door open for insuregents if they want to participate in peace process and shun violence.
  • Socio-economic initiatives on either side of the border aimed at benefitting the local inhabitants by alleviating poverty and bringing greater development in the region should be worked out.
  • A mutually acceptable arrangement addressing the security concerns of both the countries with minimum discomfort to the local inhabitants would be best way to address the border problem.
  • Provide an assurance that no construction of border fence will be undertaken on either side without taking the affected population into confidence by both countries.
Steps taken to address security:
  • Better use of technology, and regulated flow of cross-border movement, among other initiatives, can be examined.
  • Regulated borders with greater emphasis on developing people-to-people contact and cross-border trade initiatives are likely to yield greater security benefits.
  • It is however essential to take into confidence the affected populace and the local stakeholders prior to the finalisation and implementation of such plans.

India-China border issues

  • India shares total boundary of around 3,488 km with China (second largest after Bangladesh).
  • The Sino-Indian border is generally divided into three sectors namely: Western sector, Middle sector, and Eastern sector.
  • 5 states viz. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh share border with China.

Western Sector: Here border between Jammu and Kashmir and Xinjiang Province of China. In this sector, there is territorial dispute over Aksai Chin. Both countries went to war in 1962 over disputed territory of Aksai Chin. India claims it as part of Kashmir, while China claims it is part of Xinjiang.
The dispute over Aksai Chin can be traced back to the failure of the British Empire to clearly demarcate a legal border between China and its Indian colony. During the time of British rule in India, two borders between India and China were proposed Johnson’s Line and McDonald Line. India considers Johnson Line as correct, rightful national border with China, while on the other hand, China considers the McDonald Line as the correct border with India. At present, Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the line separating Indian areas of Jammu and Kashmir from Aksai Chin. It is concurrent with the Chinese Aksai Chin claim line.
Middle Sector In this sector, India shares boundary with China which runs along the watershed from Ladakh to Nepal. The states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand touch this border with Tibet (China) in this sector. Both sides do not have much disagreement over border in this area.
Eastern Sector In this sector, India-China border runs from the eastern limit of Bhutan to a point near the Talu Pass at the trijunction of Tibet, India and Myanmar. This boundary line is called McMahon Line. The boundary was established along the Himalayan crest of the northern watershed of the Brahmaputra, except where the Kemang, Subansiri, Dihang and Lohit rivers break through that watershed. China considers the McMahon Line illegal and unacceptable claiming that Tibetans representatives who had sign the 1914 Convention held in Shimla which delineated the Mc Mahon line on the map were not having rights to do so. It is interesting that in same agreement, boundary upto Myanmar was settled, and China accepts Mac Mohan line with Myanmar.

India and China had never shared a common boundary till; China “liberated” or occupied Tibet in 1950. It was then that the hitherto India Tibet boundary was transformed into an India-China boundary. Since 1954, China started claiming large tracts of territory along the entire border such as Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir, some areas in Uttrakhand and the entire Arunachal Pradesh. In 1957, China occupied Aksai Chin and built a road through it. This episode was followed by intermittent clashes along the border, which finally culminated in the border war of 1962. The boundary, which came into existence after the war, came to be known as Line of Actual Control (LAC). It is a military held line.
  • The rapprochement between the two countries in 1976 enabled India and China to initiate High Level border talks in 1981 to find a solution to the vexed problem. However talks broke down in 1987
  • In 1988, following Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China, the Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to look into the border problem.
  • In 1993, the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was signed and the India-China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers was set up to assist the JWG.
  • In 1996, the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC was signed.
  • In 2003, two special representatives (one each from India and China) were appointed to find a political solution to the border dispute. Till 2009, these two special representatives had held 17 rounds of talks, but it seems they have not made much headway.
  • Recently, NSA was appointed as Special Envoy for talks.

There are three stages of negotiation:

  • Agreeing to guiding principles to be followed – this is done
  • Recognizing Boundary and area – evolving consensus – this is toughest one and process is struck here
  • Demarcation of boundaries

China’s People Liberation Army has time and again intruded Indian borders. This was followed by Indian PM’s visit to China in 2013, where additional Confidence Building Measure on Border cooperation was agreed at. The measures include regular interaction between the Army Headquarters and Field Commands of the two sides, additional border personnel meeting points and more telecommunication linkages between their forward posts at mutually agreed locations. Despite this incursion continue, recent one when Xi Jinping was on Indian visit, suggests that either there is lack of coordination or there are differences in China Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army leadership.
As regards border management, the India-China border throws up only a few challenges. There is hardly any circulation of people or goods between the two countries through the border. Few intermittent interactions, nonetheless did take place though the gaps in the mountain ranges. These gaps were the trade and migration routes through which people and goods flowed. Some tribes had social and cultural ties with people across the border. Many other tribes also frequented the markets of Tibet to buy and sell products, but all these stopped after the 1962 war.
Presently, there are only three designated areas along the India-China border through which border trade takes place; these are Lipu Lekh, Shipki La and Nathu La. The volume of trade in these trading points is not large. However, large scale smuggling of Chinese electronic and other consumer goods take place through these border points. India has under taken border road construction in Arunachal Pradesh which was objected to by China. India ignored the objection by reiterating its authority over the area. Indian side of Border almost has no Infrastructure. This is due to ever-present lethargy of Indian government. On other hand, China has built massive rail road linkages on its side.

Recent Doklam issue

Indian and Chinese troops are facing off once again in Sikkim at Doko-La (or Donglong, as the Chinese call it), which lies at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. There have been growing tensions between India and China. Both countries have upped the ante and deployed around 3,000 troops each in the tri-junction. The Doklam area has huge strategic significance for both India and China. It close to proximity of sensitive Chicken’s Neck, or the Siliguri Corridor, which is an extremely narrow stretch of land that connects the north-eastern region to the rest of India.

India Pakistan border Relations

  • The boundary runs from the hot Thar Desert in Rajasthan to the cold Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • India shares 3323 km long and complicated boundary with Pakistan.
  • The India-Pakistan boundary is categorized under three different heads:
    • The first is the international boundary also known as the ‘Radcliff line’. It is 2308 km long and stretches from Gujarat to parts of Jammu district in Jammu and Kashmir.
    • The second is the line of control (LoC), or the Cease Fire Line, which came into existence after the 1948 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan. This line is 776 km long, and runs along the districts of Jammu (some parts), Rajouri, Poonch, Baramula, Kupwara, Kargil and some portions of Leh.
    • And the third is the actual ground position line (AGPL), which is 110 km long and extends from NJ 9842 to Indira Col in the North (Siachin Glacier).

India Pakistan (1965 War) Pakistan launched armed attacks in the Rann of Kutch area of Gujarat, later it launched bigger offensive in J & K in 1965. Pakistan thought that this time the local population would support the cause of Pakistan, but nothing of this sort happened. Due to the mediation of Soviet Union, Both the countries signed the Tashkent Agreement [Shastri from India & General Ayub Khan from Pak] in January 1966. Although India won the war, this war added India the economic difficulties.
1971 India Pakistan War The internal crisis of Pakistan after the verdict of their general elections turned violent. However, strong and powerful western establishment ignored the democratic verdict and didn’t accept the League’s demand for federation. Instead of responding to their demands and verdict positively, Pak army arrested Rahman and unleashed brutal terror activities and suppressed their voices.
Due to the huge influence of refugees from Eastern Pak, India deliberated much and later extended its support to people’s cause materially and morally, which was frowned by Western Pak as Indian conspiracy to break of Pakistan. With emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country, India declared a unilateral ceasefire. Later Shimla Agreement of 1972 between Indira Gandhi & Zulfikar Bhutto brought back the peace between two nations.
Kargil War After the debacle of 1971 war, Pak army never tried to fight with Indian army directly & started the proxy war by sending the terrorists trained by their secret agencies to create havoc and panic in J & K and India. In 1999, so called Mujahideens occupied several points on the Indian side of LOC in the Mashkoh, Dras, Kaksar, Batalik. Suspecting Pak’s hand behind such activities, Indian forces immediately started retaliating to such proxy war which is known as “Kargil conflict”. This conflict got worldwide attention because of the nuclear capabilities attained by these countries in 1998, which could be used by either side, however nuclear weapons were not used in war, and Indian troops regained their points.
Sir Creek Dispute Sir Creek is a 96 km tidal estuary on the border of India and Pakistan which opens up into the Arabian Sea, & divides Gujarat state of India from Sindh province of Pakistan. Pakistan claims the entire Sir Creek, with its eastern bank defined by a “green line” and represented on a 1914 map belongs to it. Accepting Pakistan’s premise on the “green line” would mean loss of about 250 square miles of EEZ for India.
India supports its stance by citing the Thalweg doctrine in international law. The law states that river boundaries between two states may be, if the two states agree, divided by the mid-channel, also shown on a map dated 1925. Though Pakistan does not dispute the 1925 map, it maintains that the doctrine is not applicable in this case as it most commonly applies to non-tidal rivers, and Sir Creek is a tidal estuary.
Sir Creek itself has little value. It is a marshy wasteland. But where the boundary line runs through it will determine how much Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) one country will lose or gain. Much of the region is rich in oil and gas below the sea bed, and control over the creek would have a huge bearing on the energy potential of each nation.

Challenges due to non- resolution of border issue

  • Western front and Creek
    Due to lack of proper maritime boundary, inadvertent crossing over of fishermen of both nations cross border infilteration by militants from Pakistan and active support given by state and non-state agencies. Main route to smuggle drugs, arms and petroleum product to India – exploited by drug syndicate Terrorists are using disputed area to cross over Indian side. In 26/11 terror attack, terrorists captured an Indian fishing vessel, Kuber, off Sir Creek, and used it to attack Mumbai.

  • Siachin Dispute
    Siachin is a triangular bit of land between Pakistan occupied Kashmir and the part ceded by Pakistan to the Chinese, which has the dubious distinction of being the world’s highest battlefield. Siachen sits at a very strategic location with Pakistan on the left and China on the right. So Pakistan re-interpreted it as North-Eastwards to claim the area beyond the Saltoro Ridge and beyond Siachen as its own. This would give Pakistan direct connectivity to China as well as a strategic oversight over the Ladakh region and on to the crucial Leh-Srinagar highway posing a serious threat to India. In 1983, Pakistani generals decided to stake their claim through troop deployments to the Siachen glacier. To pre-empt Pakistan, India launched Operation Meghdoot in April 1984 and occupied the high points of the glacier.

  • Cost of military deployment in such inhospitable territory
    According to reliable estimates, over 2,000 soldiers from both sides have died on the Siachen glacier since 1984, when India beat Pakistan by a few days to occupy many of the strategic locations on the glacier. It is not just avalanches; the challenging terrain of the glacier and its surroundings as a whole have been regularly claiming lives. Ever since the two militaries began a costly engagement on the glacier, there have been numerous efforts by both countries to find a way to demilitarise the glacier, but a result has yet to be seen in actual.

Indus Waters Treaty

The Indus Waters Treaty, brokered by World Bank, was signed by the then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani President Ayub Khan in 1960.
  • India governs Beas, Ravi, and Sutlej;
  • Pakistan governs Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum.
  • India is allowed to use 20% of Indus water for irrigation, power-generation, and transportation.
  • Exchange of information about the rivers through Permanent Indus Commission – comprising of representatives from both India and Pakistan
  • Disputes have to be referred to seven member arbitral tribunal called “Court of Arbitration”.
The global warming and climate change is melting the glaciers Tibetan Plateau which will impact Indus river water system in future. Therefore both the countries should aim to reduce water wastage and develop sustainable river development plans.

Border Area Development Program

Development of border areas has been a matter of concern for the country. The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) was initiated in western region, which at that point of time was the most volatile border, during the Seventh Five Year Plan period for ensuring balanced development of border areas through development of infrastructure and promotion of wellbeing and a sense of security among the border population. The programme has been expanded since to cover the border blocks of the 17 States (including 8 North Eastern States), which have international land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The development of border areas is now viewed as a part of the comprehensive approach to the Border Management, which focuses on socio-economic development of the people and promotion of wellbeing and a security environment in the border areas.
The programme is supplemental in nature to fill the gaps and the funds under BADP are provided to the States as a 100% non-lapsable Special Central Assistance for execution of projects relating to infrastructure, livelihood, education, health, agriculture, and allied sectors to meet the special developmental needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border. The BADP is being implemented by the Department of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs through the State Governments. Guidelines of the programme are prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with Planning Commission (or now NITI Aayog), Ministry of Finance and concerned State Governments. Formulation of schemes/projects, their approval and execution is the primary responsibility of the State Governments. Implementation of the Programme is monitored and reviewed by the State Governments and Ministry of Home Affairs.