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Shimla Agreement Criticism

Donald Trump`s offer to help India and Pakistan resolve the Kashmir issue became a major controversy after India rejected the US president`s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested it. As the U.S. government tries to downplay Trump`s remarks by calling the Kashmir issue “bilateral” to “discuss India and Pakistan,” the focus has shifted again to previous “bilateral agreements,” whose 1972 Simla Agreement (or Shimla Agreement), signed by then-Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto , for friendly relations between the two countries. The international and regional context after 1971 had made the realization of some kind of agreement an important political objective for Gandhi and his national security team. After a successful war that liberated Bangladesh, politicians tried to continue to submit India`s status by showing a credible attempt at peace. Of course, India`s image had to be balanced by concrete results. The most desirable outcome would have been a final resolution in Kashmir, which bypasses the de facto position administered by both sides. The evidence is that policymakers have attempted to address some of the deep roots of the Indo-Pakistani conflict in Kashmir, seen as a direct manifestation of Pakistan`s national identity and not as a normal territorial impasse between states. P.N.

Haksar, Gandhi`s senior foreign policy adviser, later wrote that India`s approach was based on “the realization that Pakistan continues to have an unresolved crisis of its national identity.” 1971 paved the way for an alternative future for Pakistan. In 2003, Musharraf called for a ceasefire during the LoC. India accepted its proposal and put into effect on 25 November a ceasefire agreement, the first formal ceasefire since the start of the insurgency in Kashmir. In addition to the withdrawal of troops and the return of prisoners from the 1971 war, the Simla Agreement was a model for India and Pakistan to maintain friendly and neighbourhood relations. As part of the agreement, the two warring countries promised to renounce conflicts and confrontations and strive for peace, friendship and cooperation. “When its prisoners of war returned to Pakistan, the Pakistani army resumed its shameful activities against Bangladesh and India… And at home, Indira Gandhi was a victim of widespread criticism for signing the Simla agreement without solving the Kashmir problem,” explains the author. In the end, during the Shimla final, Gandhi evolved as a swing factor between strength and accommodating postures. The alternative of calling Bhutto`s bluff and leaving without agreement, Gandhi and Haksar were deemed too expensive after India`s dramatic triumph in 1971. The self-limitation that underpinned India`s attitude was all too noticeable to the Pakistanis. Ahmed, their negotiator, later noted that “India`s excessive fear of avoiding the failure of the talks at all costs has become its great handicap,” while it held “all the negotiating tokens.” Haksar later noted that “force negotiations” are part of the diplomatic currency. But negotiating with someone weak is even more difficult.¬†According to historian Ramachandra Guha, India wanted a “comprehensive treaty to solve all outstanding problems,” while Pakistan preferred a “piecemeal approach.” Although India wanted a treaty, it reached an agreement because of the bitter negotiations of the Pakistanis.

The actual negotiations began on 28 June 1972 and lasted five days, with India clinging to the approach of Dhar, in which the return of prisoners of war and Indian-occupied territory was part of a set of permanent agreements on the formal delimitation of the Kashmir border.

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