May 29, 2023
May 29, 2023
Treaties and Agreements Proved Futile
Continued from Previous Page
When some Indian and most Pakistani people argue that Kashmir is the root cause of conflict and major bottleneck in normalization of relations for a sustained peace and harmony between India and Pakistan; on face, it appears a very cogent and strong reason. Notwithstanding, it is also a fact that now the dispute is over seventy years old and umpteen efforts have been made internationally under the aegis of the United Nations and influential world leader countries like the US and UK as also bilaterally by the top leadership of the two countries from time to time under various treaties and agreements, yet the issue remained unresolved. So one needs to cautiously ponder as to who is actually responsible for this conundrum and what is that unreconcilable issue that ultimately spoils any chances of settlement between the two stakeholder nations.
UN Mediation Efforts on Kashmir
Seeds of conflict between the newly created dominions of India and Pakistan were sown by Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself when he declared Kashmir as “The Jugular Vein of Pakistan” in 1947. It is of common knowledge and part of recorded history how Pakistan army supported militant Muslims and Pashtun tribesmen made invasion and advances into Kashmir valley in 1947 to forcibly occupy it by overthrowing the Dogra King. It was only after the Maharaja formally sought intervention of India and signed an instrument of accession on 25 October, 1947 that the Government of India dispatched its armed forces to save Kashmir. The war between the Indian forces and Pakistani invaders continued till 1948 untill Indian leadership under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sought intervention of United Nations Security Council in January 1948 for the resolution of the issue.
Among several resolutions on India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir, the one passed by the UN Security Council on 21st April 1948 was most crucial which inter alia provided for three major stipulations. As the first step, Pakistan was called upon to make best endeavours to secure the withdrawal of all Pakistani nationals and tribesmen putting an end to the fighting in the state. As the second step, India was expected to progressively reduce its armed forces to the minimum level as required for keeping law and order. In doing so, India was expected to administer law and order in consultation with the UN Commission, engaging local personnel as far as possible. Finally as third step, India was asked to make sure that all the major political parties were invited to participate in the state government forming a coalition cabinet. Following this, India was to appoint a Plebiscite Administrator nominated by the United Nations for a free and impartial plebiscite.
However, both India and Pakistan had reservations and objections over certain provisions in UN Resolution. For instance, India had reservations about the suggested coalition government allowing participation of pro-Pakistani elements while Pakistan was reluctant to vacate territories already captured. Thus due to mutual mistrust and differences over the implementation of these conditions, two sides could never implement their part of pre-requisites of plebiscite for long. In other words, Pakistan never vacated the occupied territory of Kashmir which they called ‘Ajad Kashmir’ and India never demilitarized fearing more adventures and surprises from the Pakistani side. Subsequent intervention of United Nations with revised formulae too could not resolve differences of two sides. The question of plebiscite gradually became impractical and irrelevant and United Nations stopped considering the issue of plebiscite after 1962 and, instead, kept advising both nations to settle dispute through bilateral talk.
Pakistan does not accept the Instrument of Accession signed between the Maharaja of Kashmir and the Government of India in 1947 citing the Hindu ruler was unpopular and not acceptable to the majority Muslim population of Kashmir. In support of its claim over Kashmir and demand for plebiscite, Pakistan argues that the two-nation theory on the basis of which Pakistan was partitioned from India equally holds good for Kashmir because it has a majority Muslim population. The Kashmiri insurgency is quoted as an alibi that the people of Kashmir do not wish to remain with India; insurgents and terrorists are glorified as freedom fighters by Pakistan.
India consistently maintains that the ruler of the princely state, Maharaja Hari Singh, had legally acceded the State of Jammu & Kashmir to the Union of India by signing the Instrument of Accession in October 1947; hence Kashmir is legally an integral part of India like any other state or territory. The Constituent Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir lawfully represented the wish of Kashmiri people at that time and had unanimously ratified the Instrument of Accession to India. Besides, the accession was totally legal and valid in terms of the Government of India Act (1935), Indian Independence Act (1947) and under International Law. Demand of plebiscite is neither tenable nor practical in the present scenario and all differences between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir, must be settled through bilateral negotiations as agreed to by the two countries under the Shimla Agreement in July, 1972.
The issue of plebiscite is not tenable because the United Nations have not referred to plebiscite after 1962 and UN Security Council Resolution 1172 (Resolution 47 of April 1948 is obsolete and a thing of past) inter alia recognized that bilateral dialogue has to be the basis of India-Pakistan relations and mutually acceptable solutions have to be found for outstanding issues including Kashmir. Then it is not practicable because too many demographic and geographic changes after 1947 have made it infructuous. Due to years of persecution and threat to the life and property, lakhs of Hindus, especially the Kashmiri Pundits and Sikhs, have been forced to leave Kashmir by the separatists and terrorists. A majority of them are leading miserable life as refugees in places like Delhi, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. A conducive atmosphere for their return and rehabilitation is necessary. Besides, any plebiscite is applicable to whole state and a significant part of it is currently under illegal possession of Pakistan and China. Pakistan has allowed non-Kashmiris to infiltrate and settle in POK over the past decades. Therefore, any plebiscite has no meaning unless these demographic and geographic changes are reversed and the original position of 1947 restored.
As a matter of fact, both India and Pakistan had several objections on successive UN Security Council Resolutions on the stated dispute and the last resolution largely accepted India's position that outstanding issues between India and Pakistan need to be resolved through mutual dialogue. The time has proved that the two-nation theory propagated by pre-independence Muslim League was on wrong premises and completely failed over time. Therefore, Kashmir, despite being a Muslim-majority state, is an integral part of the Secular and Democratic India following its lawful integration in the past. Notwithstanding this, Pakistani top leaders raise the demand of plebiscite on Kashmir year after year in the UN General Assembly in spite of the UN making it umpteen times clear that the issue should be resolved by the two countries through bilateral talks.
Following Indian debacle in Indo-China War in 1962 and a few subsequent developments including supply of sophisticated weaponry to Pakistan by US, perhaps the military leadership under General Ayub Khan was under impression that the Indian armed forces won’t be able to defend Kashmir against a quick, sharp and powerful military campaign. After a few overt and covert skirmishes and operation, full scale hostilities broke out between the two countries leading to an all-out war towards the last week of August, 1965. The war stopped after the UN Security Council passed a resolution on 22nd September, 1965 calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. Both sides suffered heavy losses and claimed victory; however, in the eyes of the neutral analysts and observers, India was largely perceived as a victor and Russia (then USSR) largely played a peacemaker.
The then Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan met in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in January 1966 and the talks were mediated by Soviet Premier Aleksey Kosygin following the ceasefire secured through UN Security Council in September 1965. Following several rounds of talks between Indian premier and Pakistani president, a peace agreement between India and Pakistan was signed on 10 January 1966. Under the Taskent Agreement, the two sides had inter alia agreed: 1) to withdraw all armed forces to positions held before 5 August 1965; 2) to restore diplomatic relations; and 3) to discuss economic, refugee and other questions for a long term solution. Significantly, the agreement did not cater for any no-war pact or renunciation of hostile activities in Kashmir which was the main cause of the war between the two countries.
The Tashkent negotiations under the influence of United Nations, American and Soviet made India and Pakistan to accept Status quo ante bellum (i.e. the state existing before the war) by giving away the captured territories of each other and return to the January 1949 ceasefire line in Kashmir. The stated ceasefire was intended to be temporary but the Line of Control remained the de facto border between the two countries. The agreement faced wide criticism in India because it did not contain any lasting provision for Kashmir which was the root cause of 1965 war. Another major embarrassment was that after signing the agreement, Prime Minister Shastri died in mysterious circumstances in Tashkent that gave rise to many conspiracy theories. Later the Indian government decided not to declassify the report on his death citing reasons like risk of spoiling foreign relations, disruptions in the country and breach of parliamentary privileges.
In pursuance of the Tashkent agreement, ministerial level talks were held between India and Pakistan during the first week of March 1966. Though diplomatic relations were restored and exchanges continued but the bilateral talks remained unproductive. Once again the main reason for the talks remaining unproductive was unreconcilable differences of opinion over the Kashmir. The overtures Pakistani military rulers and army had led to a public perception that Pakistan was going to demonstration and rioting. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, was well known for his rants against India and outcome of Taskent didn’t auger well for his reputation and was removed from the government. Although General Ayub Khan was able to pacify many countrymen in his address to nation on 14 January 1966, the agreement took a heavy toll on his reputation that became one of the key factors leading to his downfall.
The Bangladesh Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a landslide victory in the national elections winning a clear majority in the Majlis-e-Shoora (Pakistan National Assembly) but ZA Bhutto, the leader of the second largest Pakistan People’s Party and President General Yahya Khan refused to allow Rahman to form government and the Prime Minister of Pakistan. This denial of the transfer of power to the democratically elected party forced the Awami League led by Rehman resorting to agitation and protest and consequent ruthless action of Pakistan army to crush the popular uprisings in the East Pakistan under the orders of President Yahya Khan. This led to approximately 10 million refugees fleeing East Pakistan and taking shelter in the neighbouring Indian states. With other powerful and influential countries remaining indifferent, India had no option but to provide moral and material support to the freedom struggle of the Mukti Vahini formed in the East Pakistan in retaliation. This triggered an all-out war on eastern and western fronts on 3rd December 1971 between the two countries. This 14 days war led to India’s convincing victory over Pakistan leading to the liberation of Bangladesh, surrender of approximately 93,000 Pakistani soldiers including some civilians and capture of about 14,000 Sq Km of Pakistan territory in Sindh, Punjab and Kashmir regions by the end of war on 16 December.
Despite the victory and dominance of this magnitude, India remained sober and restrained nationally and internationally in post-war scenario. Unlike 1965 war, this time India didn’t succumb to third party intervention in the post-war scenario. The bilateral negotiations between India and Pakistan led to the Shimla Agreement on 2nd July, 1972. India showed its goodwill gesture by unconditionally releasing POWs and returning the captured territory in Sindh and Punjab provinces. Besides, under the agreement, an on-going structure for bilateral negotiation and peaceful settlement of any future conflict was also put in place (of course only to be breached later by Pakistan). Pakistan had implicit support of the powerful countries like USA and China, and the former had even dispatched a strong naval fleet in the Indian Ocean with threatening gestures in solidarity with Pakistan but the Russian commitment of helping India in the event of a third nation entering war on Pakistan’s side, effectively barred them from any misadventure.
The Shimla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan on 2 July 1972 in Shimla, the capital of the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. The agreement was also endorsed by the Parliaments of both the nations. Apart from the aforesaid concessions granted by India as a goodwill gesture for a long lasting peace, the agreement resolved to put an end to the conflict and confrontation and spelt out the principles that should govern two countries future relations. In short it was a comprehensive blue print for good neighbourly relations between the two countries. The agreement was signed between the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and ZA Bhutto, the President of Pakistan. The major highlights of the agreement are as under:
In addition, both sides had agreed to progressively restore and normalize relations by resuming communications, postal, telegraphic, sea, land including border posts, and air links including overflights simultaneously taking mutual steps to promote travel facilities for the nationals of the other country. It was also agreed to enhance trade and co-operation in economic and other fields will including exchange in the fields of science and culture. Both sides had agreed that the Indian and Pakistani forces shall be withdrawn to their side of the international border and the LOC resulting from the cease-fire of 17 December 1971 in Jammu & Kashmir shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. In order to establish durable peace and normal relations, delegations of the two countries, including respective government heads, would meet from time to time to work out necessary methodology and details.
While India continued to honour Shimla Agreement and even granted Pakistan the status of the most favoured nation (MFN) in due course, the same agreement did not prevent Pakistan to constantly violate the terms of agreement in the ensuing years. Towards the end of 1970s, the US and NATO allies associated Pakistan as strategic partner in their proxy war against Soviets and Pakistan developed close links with religious militancy in the process. Henceforth Pakistan started using same assets in resorting to an undeclared proxy war against India by constantly encouraging, fostering and sponsoring terrorist activities in Kashmir and elsewhere. While engaging in treachery and coercion, Pakistan constantly ignored and violated the spirit of Shimla Agreement so much so that with the constantly deteriorating relations, the two countries reached to the point of ugly armed conflict, known as the Kargil War of 1999.
India carried out the test explosion of five nuclear devices code-named Operation Shakti–98 from 11 to 13 May 1998. Of the five detonations, the first was a thermonuclear device (fusion bomb) while the remaining four were fission based nuclear devices. Following these tests, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full-fledged nuclear state in a press conference simultaneously declaring complete moratorium on further nuclear testing. Within days of this event, Pakistan too conducted six nuclear tests under the codename Chagai-I and Chagai-II on 28 and 30 May 1998 and declared that it had capability to match India. These events added a new dimension of arm race and potential risk of war to the already troubled relations of the two neighbours underlining the need of fresh initiatives for peace in the South Asian region.
In the above background, the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee took initiative with his Pakistani counterpart and the historic Lahore Declaration was the outcome of this move. Both governments agreed in September 1998 to jointly work to create conducive environment of peace and security for resolving bilateral conflicts, which paved the way for meeting of the two heads of respective governments. Consequently, Vajpayee travelled from Delhi to Lahore accompanied with several Indian celebrities from different disciplines riding on the inaugural bus (Sada-e-Sarhad) between two historic cities. He was welcomed border by Nawaz Sharif amidst fanfare and media attention at the Wagah post of Pakistani, and two together travelled to Lahore. The Lahore Declaration was signed with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 21 February 1999 at the conclusion of historic summit in Lahore, which was later ratified by the parliaments of both countries.
Through the aforesaid MoU, both the countries expressed their resolve and commitment to work for the peace, stability and mutual progress while simultaneously reiterating their commitment to the Shimla Agreement and the UN Charter. Both governments also agreed that the testing and development of nuclear weapons brought added responsibility to both nations towards avoiding conflicts and need of Confidence-building measures to avoid accidental and unauthorized use of such weapons. Both the countries also agreed to give each other advance intimation of any ballistic missile tests and accidental or unexplained use of nuclear weapons. The most crucial points of the Declaration in this regard were as under:
The MoU under Lahore Declaration also included a joint commitment of the two countries to resolve the Kashmir conflict and other outstanding issues. To achieve this objective, it was resolved to augment bilateral dialogue and sincerely implementing nuclear safeguards. In the joint declaration, both governments condemned terrorism and resolved to non-interference in each other's internal affairs, They also agreed to work for the objectives of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation and promote human rights in the region. While the Lahore Declaration raised a new hope for the peace, cooperation and stability between the two countries but such hopes were soon belittled by the neighbor through its treacherous act in the Himalayan heights of Kargil. As it appears while the political leadership was meeting to forge long term peace through confidence building measures, Pakistani army and ISI was busy in clandestinely infiltrating and occupying Indian posts in Kargil heights which led to Kargil War during the summers of 1999 vitiating and derailing the entire peace process.
The cause of the Kargil war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers disguised as mujahideens (militants) into forward positions during the winters of 1998-99 at considerable heights on the Indian side of the LOC, which serves as the de facto border between the countries. Infiltration was detected during the first week of May when an Indian army petrol of five men sent on recce on information provided by local shepherds was captured and tortured to death by Pakistani soldiers. This incident triggered Kargil War aka Operation Vijay by the Indian armed forces to secure back the positions occupied by the enemy. The Kargil war thus started in early May officially came to an end on 26 July 1999 with the announcement by the Indian Army of the complete eviction of Pakistani intruders.
Parvez Musharraf, ex-President of Pakistan, was the head of the armed forces at the time of the Kargil war. After months of bickering and contentious relations following the war, the then Prime Minister Shariff unsuccessfully tried to remove Musharraf who comfortably managed an army coup to dethrone the former on 13 October 1999. After the Kargil fiasco, the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, claimed that he was totally unaware of the army plans, and he first came to know about the filtration when he received an emergency phone call from his Indian counterpart. He attributed the aforesaid adventure to Musharraf and his just two or three of cronies. This view was also shared by some Pakistani writers who stated that only Musharraf and few other generals knew about the plan. However, Musharraf all along maintained that Sharif had already been briefed on the Kargil operation 15 days ahead of Indian prime minister’s bus journey to Lahore on 20 February 1999.
The Kargil war came as a terrible shock and major blow to the Lahore treaty that not only stalled the treaty but the bilateral relations of the two countries also suffered a serious setback. Consequent stalemate and tense relations persisted between the two neighbours for more than a year. The then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan made an appeal to both India and Pakistan in March 2001 to revive the spirit of the Lahore Declaration and act with restraint, wisdom and constructive approach to sort out disputes and normalize relations. Finally, the ice was broken and both sides agreed to work out grounds for the Agra Summit between Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf in July 2001. After considerable political and diplomatic maneuvers and efforts, the meeting between the two heads of the respective governments was organized from 14–16 July 2001 in Agra.
The Agra summit was held amid high hopes of resolving various contentious issues and disputes between the two countries including the Kashmir issue. Several rounds of discussions, including one-to-one talks between Vajpayee and Musharraf, were held wherein a range of subjects like Kashmir issue, cross-border terrorism, nuclear risk reduction and release of prisoners of war as also commercial and cultural ties were discussed. Both delegations and media raised high hopes that the two leaders would arrive at an agreement and a joint declaration, or statement, would be made towards the end of the summit. Notwithstanding reservations of the Indian side, Musharraf also had a meeting with the separatist leaders of Kashmir represented by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
Despite euphoria raised by both sides with high hopes of a settlement, the negotiations ultimately broke down on the final day and any treaty was never signed. As a face saving gesture, the two top leaders merely stressed need for the two countries to bury their past. General Musharraf also invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit Pakistan stating that the issues between Pakistan and India were too intricate to resolve in a short time. On their part, India reiterated the need of implementing the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration in its letter and spirit as also the issue of cross-border terrorism.
Following the failure of Agra Summit, different Indian and Pakistani versions, including from some independent political analysts, came to light pointing out obstacles in the peace talks. As it appears, General Musharraf was largely perceived by the Indian establishment as the mastermind of Kargil war and the major player who sabotaged Vajpayee-Sharif peace efforts, so the Indian top leadership could not unequivocally trust him and the establishment that he represented. Also apparently the India leadership was not satisfied with Musharraf’s stand or assurance on the cross-border terrorism in Kashmir. Much later in 2015, AS Dulat, one of the former chiefs of India’s external intelligence agency ‘RAW’ quoted hardline of LK Advani, then Deputy Prime Minister, also responsible for the failure of these talks.
Peace Initiatives of Modi Regime
Following the failure of Agra Summit, any serious efforts were not made by the either side for structured dialogue between the two countries. During the remaining tenure of Vajpayee government and subsequent ten years of Manmohan Singh government, unabated insurgency and terrorist attacks in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country kept the Indian establishment under pressure from taking any fresh peace initiatives. Some political analysts, however, hold that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was pragmatic in his approach towards Pakistan and achieved considerable success despite some serious setbacks, like the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, wherein 166 civilians were killed and over 300 wounded. Whatever may be the truth, constant terror attacks on Indian civilian and military establishments and consequent public opinion deterred the successive governments from holding dialogue with Pakistan.
After lull over a decade’s span, after an unprecedented success of his party in Parliamentary elections in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took fresh initiative when he invited heads of all neighbouring SAARC countries, including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his oath taking ceremony in May 2014. The invitation and visit of Pakistani premier received a widespread criticism in both the countries. Notwithstanding opposition, the personal meeting of the two heads of governments on the occasion broke the stalemate in relations and a Foreign Secretary level talk was scheduled in August 2014. However, when Pakistan chose to hold talks with the separatist Hurriyat leaders just before the scheduled bilateral talks, India reacted by cancelling the scheduled meeting making it clear that Pakistani dialogue with separatist leaders was unacceptable and was an unsolicited act of interference in the country’s internal matter. It is of common knowledge that a handful pro-Pakistan separatist Hurriyat leaders constantly receive funding and other support from their Pakistani masters and, in tuen, create trouble in Kashmir valley.
In yet another initiative, Prime Minister Modi made an impromptu visit to Lahore on way back from Afghanistan in December 2015 to meet his then Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. This paved way for another Foreign Secretary level talk which was scheduled in January 2016. However, before the meeting could take place, terrorists striked at the Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot and their link was traced back to Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistani. Pakistan initially assured cooperation in investigation, even a team from Pakistan visited the Indian Airbase; later they showed reluctance for the reciprocal visit of the Indian team for further investigation. Also evidence earlier given by India were denied as insufficient for further investigation, as Pakistan has done in the past in connection with other terrorist attacks. The subsequent Uri and Pulwama terrorist attacks on Indian security establishments in 2016 and 2019 have only worsened the situation despite tactical call for bilateral talks given by the new leadership of Pakistan.
The very genesis of Pakistan based on the flawed concept of the two nation theory appears to be the chief villain and root cause of the problem between India and Pakistan. The leaders of Muslim League in pre-independence era propagated the concept that Hindus and Muslims are two different nationalities and they cannot peacefully coexist together. Hence the British India was divided to create Pakistan as a homeland for Indian Muslims. The geographic division was largely based on religion-based populace with the provision of exchanging the respective population in a peaceful manner. The implementation, however, by the respective political establishments was seriously flawed leaving the civil population high and dry to fend for self and option to choose domicile. Consequently, while with the years of persecution in the Islamic Pakistan the minorities have survived there to a bare minimum, the Muslim population in democratic India flourishes almost at par with Pakistan, if not more. Also the Indian Constitution possibly provides them better terms of life and more freedom in the democratic India.
Thus the time has proved the two nation theory wrong and futile but Pakistan continues to stake its claim over Kashmir based on the logic that the land has a majority Muslim population. Thus any claim over a territory based on religious population is neither valid nor acceptable on flawed theory. The fact is the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is comprised of three distinct geographical regions, namely, Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh – the latter two regions are not only bigger geographical entities but also have majority/significant Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist population. India cannot leave its lawfully integrated land and populace at the mercy of an Islamic State where democracy is for the name’s sake and actual reins are in the hands of army since its creation.
There is yet another reason why peace and cooperation with Pakistan is a remote possibility. Many Pakistani ulema, clerics, professional scientists, army personnel and politicians are actively engaged in spreading the ideology of "Ghazwa-e-Hind" which means the conquest of India. Ghazwa means a war to kill Kafirs and Hind (India) is the land of Kafirs from their point of view. These hardliners keep on poisoning the minds of Pakistani masses against India through hateful propaganda and speeches while few people with rational minds and reasonable voices are in minority and remain sidelined. Thus the DNA of Pakistan is built on anti-India ideology and there is remote possibility of two neighbours ever living in peace and harmony even if someday the Kashmir issue is resolved.
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More by : Dr. Jaipal Singh
|"Many Pakistani ulema, clerics, professional scientists, army personnel and politicians are actively engaged in spreading the ideology of "Ghazwa-e-Hind" which means the conquest of India."|
This is strange and shows how twisted this whole Pakistani radical mentality is. No body asked these people to separate from India. They could not wait to divide and go. Now that they got their wish they want to conquer India, which was "theirs" too to begin with. Do they realize they are a failed state?