Pak military build-up in Sir Creek area now evident; Air-Defence capabilities also being strengthened

It’s not just Jammu and Kashmir; the Pakistani military build-up in the Sir Creek area is now evident.

A second Sir Creek Battalion, called the 32nd Creeks Battalion, is ready. Its area of responsibility is from Hajmoro Creek up to Karango Creek near Karachi. There is already one at 31st Creeks Battalion, headquartered in Sujjawal. The 32nd will have Gharo as its headquarters.

The additional battalion is just the beginning, high-level government sources said. Pakistan has plans to have additional infantry and amphibious battalions and eventually arrive at a strength of three brigades, which is roughly, nine battalions, a big increase from the current two.

With the increase in manpower is a planned increase in strength. For coastal surveillance, Pakistan is looking at more offshore patrol vessels, six hovercraft and over 60 vessels of different sizes. Besides, of the 18 marine assault boats being imported, four are for the Creek area. This is besides the 6 new coastal defence boats that are being thought of, the sources added.

The air-defence capabilities are also being strengthened. New radar-controlled guns, short-range air defence weapons, better communication networks are all on the anvil.

As for aircraft, there are already 4 Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft and 2 ATRs in nearby Mehran and Karachi. The Sir Creek area has been volatile in the past. In 1999, just after the Kargil War, Indian Air Force fighters shot down a Pakistan Naval Atlantique surveillance aircraft after it strayed into the Indian territory. More recently, there have been intelligence reports of Pakistani “commandos” positioned in the Harami Nala-Sir Creek area.

The Sir Creek separates Gujarat, in India, from Sind, in Pakistan. India and Pakistan are still in dispute about where the international boundary is.