ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and India are most likely to resolve the longstanding dispute over Sir Creek, a marshland that separates the nuclear neighbours at the Arabian sea, by the end this year and in this regard the official circles here are attaching great significance to the forthcoming Pak-India talks on the contentious issue scheduled for December 2-3. Sir Creek is one of eight major issues on the Pak-India composite dialogue agenda devised by the archrival South Asian nations for the peace process that they launched back in 2004. The other issues include Kashmir, Peace and Security, Siachen, Wullar Barrage and trade and economic relations. The row between Islamabad and India over Sir Creek, the 99-km stretch of marsh and lies partly in Pakistan's Sindh province and partly in India's Gujarat state, dates back to 1947, when India and Pakistan became independent. However, the officials here are optimistic about the resolution of Sir Creek dispute before the end of 2008. One important reason for the hectic behind-the-scene efforts and endeavours through formal diplomatic channels by the two sides for the purpose is the deadline of 2009 given by "UN Convention on Law of the Sea" to which both Pakistan and India are signatories. "The convention requires that all maritime boundary conflicts should be resolved by 2009, failing which the UN may declare disputed areas as international waters," said an official here desiring not to be named. The determination of the boundaries in marshland, however, would in turn allow Pakistan and India to notify the limits of their maritime economic zones as demanded by the UN Convention, he added. He said that the two sides were expecting breakthrough after the December talks on Sir Creek because they had been able to remove most of their differences over the thorny dispute such as those related to the joint survey of Creek. Apart from that UN deadline, the two sides were also eager to settle at least one of the eight major disputes and that too as soon as possible to give the much needed thrust to the sluggish Indo-Pak peace process that remained unable to settle Kashmir or any other main issue despite years' long peace process launched in 2004, the official said. Another official when contacted confirmed the ongoing hectic efforts by Pakistan and India aimed at the settlement of Sir Creek dispute. Asking for anonymity, he said that the much-awaited visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan in the coming days and months was also linked to resolution of any one major issue between Pakistan and India. "In case of agreement on Sir Creek in December, the Indian Prime Minister could come to Pakistan in next few days and make the important announcement, a significant development that would make the visit more important and successful," the official said.