JAVED MAHMOOD and SHAFI BALOCH KARACHI - The United Nations (UN) is keeping mum on the protracted dispute between Pakistan and India over the ownership of Sir Creek even after the expiry of the deadline given by the world body to resolve this issue. The UN had set May 2009 as the deadline for both the arch-rival countries to resolve this dispute amicably with a warning that after the expiry of the deadline the disputed area of sea would convert into the international waters. The UN fixed this deadline in 1982, but after a lapse of 26 years, Pakistan and India have failed to settle this issue as a result of which the fishermen of both the countries are in serious trouble as they are being detained frequently and put into jails in violation of the UN laws while their boats and catch are being impounded. Chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Muhammad Ali Shah disclosed this in an exclusive interview to The Nation on Sunday. Shah said at present about 800 fishermen belonging to Pakistan and India are languishing in jails of the two countries. A majority of them were nabbed from the disputed sea waters of Sir Creek, he added. The United Nations law does not allow the arrest of fishermen and seizing of their boats, Shah said, adding that both the countries are violating the UN laws and adding insult to the fishermen miseries, who belong to the most poor segment of the society. Why Maritime Securities of Pakistan and India were capturing fishermen from Sir Creek now when the disputed part of the sea has now become the part of International Waters from May 2009, after the expiry of the deadline given by the UN, he argued. He pointed out that some of the Pakistani fishermen were languishing in the Indian jails for many months although they have completed their tenure. The PFF urged the UN and governments of Pakistan and India to take measures to end the years old practice of frequently arresting fishermen, making miserable the lives of the arrested persons and their family members. Both Pakistan and India share the water and the resources of the Arabian Sea. Pakistan has its coastline of 1050 km while the India has a longer coastline of 7417 km. Due to dispute over the ownership of Sir Creek, no permanent and visible demarcation of sea has been made by the two countries, Shah added. Muhammad Rafiq, a 47 years old fisherman told The Nation that the fishing boats sometime cross the territory in the absence of demarcation and owing to tidal currents, wind force, cyclone and engine failures, leading to their arrest. The families of detained fishermen are facing starvation due to the arrest of their bread-winners, he said. MA Shah said the authorities of both the countries should realise that the families of the arrested fishermen are living in terrible conditions and facing starvation, illness, financial and other problems. He said that Sir Creek dispute was a long and complicated problem between the two countries and Pakistan and India appear least interested in formulating a concrete policy on this issue. Since its inception in 1998, the PFF is struggling against such arrests of the fishermen of both countries. The forum, along with other fishermens organisations, has not only been organising rallies, hunger strikes, seminars and conferences but also writing letters to the authorities concerned of both the countries, informing them about the ongoing circumstances of the arrested fishermen and their families.