Friday, 14 December 2012

Implementation of Simla Agreement

Implementation of Simla Agreement
Dr Shabir Choudhry     14 December 2012

Some people are programmed to present Pakistan as a saviour and well wisher of people of Jammu and Kashmir; whereas Kashmir watchers and people with know – how know that there is no difference in state policies of both India and Pakistan with regard to Kashmir dispute. Some experts confidently assert that respective governments of Pakistan have done more damage to the Kashmir dispute than India, although India leads Pakistan as far as human rights abuses are concerned.

People of State of Jammu and Kashmir are burning from both ends. They are occupied by more than one country; although for many decades struggle has been against only one occupier. Because of wrong policies and lack of sincere leadership, India and Pakistan have been calling shots on Kashmir, and people of Jammu and Kashmir are not even considered a party to the dispute despite loss of a generation and enormous suffering.

Rulers of Pakistan with help of some of their puppets, presented as ‘leaders’ of Kashmiri people are conspiring to implement the Simla Agreement signed between India and Pakistan in 1972. The Simla Agreement changed fundamental character of the Kashmiri struggle and nature of the Kashmir dispute, and its ultimate objective was to convert LOC as a defacto border between India and Pakistan that no country lose on the issue of Kashmir. Only loser in this are the people of Jammu and Kashmir; and some ‘businessmen’ presented as ‘leaders’ have been assigned the task to sell this deal to the people or keep them calm. The following article looks at the Simla agreement in some detail. I hope people of Jammu and Kashmir will decide if this is in the interest of our people and those who signed the Simla Agreement are our well wishers.

Many in Pakistan hold people of Jammu and Kashmir responsible for their miseries and for the break - up of Pakistan. Reality, however, is that we Kashmiris have suffered and continue to suffer because of wrong and imperialist policies of Pakistan. As far as break up of Pakistan is concerned, we people of Jammu and Kashmir have no role in it. Mr GW Choudhury, a Minister in Ayub Khan and Yayya Khan's governments and who has written many books on Pakistan and Indo Pakistan relations, thinks it had nothing to with the Kashmir dispute. He attributes a lot of blame to undemocratic governments in Pakistan. He said:

'Death of the democratic process and the rise of an authoritarian system under Ayub Khan was the beginning of the end of united Pakistan. Ayub's political system, in which the Bengalis had lost all initiatives in national affairs, was the root cause of the disintegration of the country.'1

The Kashmiri struggle for independence had no role in deprivation of political, democratic and economic rights of people of East Pakistan. The war started in East Pakistan and then its venue shifted to the West Pakistan and Kashmir in order to ease the pressure in East Pakistan.
Pakistan lost this war and both countries concluded the 'Simla Agreement' in 1972. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was seen as a defeated leader with Indira Gandhi holding the trump card.  Anyhow, the 'Simla Agreement' increased the Kashmiri people's sense of disappointment and frustration. 

Pakistan agreed to rename the Cease-Fire Line into "Line of Actual Control," which to many people was another name for an international boundary.  Cease-fire means that the war has not yet finished - only the fighting has ceased; but the "Line of Actual Control," gives a completely different meaning. Prof. Ahmad Hassan Dani commented on the situation as follows:

'In 1971-2, when we lost Bangladesh because we would not accept the verdict of the general election in the then two wings of Pakistan, the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto bargained on Kashmir and got our prisoners of war released by accepting that the cease-fire line could be changed to Line of Control, although this was not approved by the UN.  Again Kashmir was exchanged for the sake of prisoners of war, who, in any case, could not be kept forever, or killed by India, in face of the world opinion.' 2

After the war of 1965, both countries agreed to move their troops back to the positions held before the war - both in Pakistan and the State of Jammu and Kashmir. But in Simla, India agreed to withdraw from the Pakistani territory, but refused to withdraw from areas of the State she occupied in the war. Pakistan agreed to that, and that was why Cease-Fire Line was renamed as Line of Control. Implied meaning of this was a tacit acceptance that the State of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India; therefore India has right to retain these areas.

Apart from that, Pakistan agreed that the Kashmir problem would be decided through bilateral talks between India and Pakistan.  There was no mention of the UN Resolutions or wishes of the Kashmiri people, what this meant was that both governments could decide the future of Kashmir, without reference to the Kashmiri people. This was a clear negation of the UN Resolutions on Kashmir, and pledges that were made to the Kashmiri people by both governments.

It is not that the UN Resolutions satisfied sentiments of the Kashmiri people; in fact, they limited their right of self- determination by giving them only two choices of either becoming a Pakistani or an Indian. But at least these Resolutions provided them with some choice, and in Simla Agreement even that was taken away from them. In Simla, both governments agreed to resolve: 'their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by other peaceful means mutually agreed by them'.

Meaning of that is clear; both governments have to agree the next course of action when bilateral negotiations fail. For example, if bilateral negotiations on Kashmir fail and Pakistan wish to take the Kashmir issue back to the United Nations Security Council, Pakistan has to get the Indian government's agreement on this. This explains why Pakistan has not approached the UN Security Council all these years despite all the human rights violations in Kashmir and a serious threat to peace. The Simla Agreement talks on Kashmir like this:

…'In Jammu and Kashmir the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognised position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or use of force in violation of this line.'3

Jyotindra Nath 'Mani' Dixit, the former Foreign Secretary of India analyses the Simla Agreement and reveals some important information. In an interview with Sheela Bhatt, he claimed that, “We defeated them for the first and perhaps only time on both, the Eastern and Western fronts. We helped the liberation of Bangladesh and captured large areas of Sind and southern Punjab. They didn't succeed in Kashmir, and we took 93,000 prisoners of war….  We kept on insisting that the military commanders would draw a new line. It would not be called a cease-fire line, but the Line of Control. It would be the first step towards making it an international boundary. Kashmir would not be considered a dispute. We discussed this at a formal meeting too. Bhutto said, "I have no problem. I will do it, but please don't put it in the agreement, formally."……"Look, I am in a weak position. I have just taken over. If you make very harsh demands and if I concede them I may not survive back home. Already, there is a lot of anger and frustration in Pakistan. We don't want an extremist Muslim or military government to come back. So please help me stabilise myself in office." 4

Dixit asserts that Mrs Gandhi insisted that this should be in the Agreement; Bhutto opposed it by saying that it would create difficulties for him in Pakistan. His point of view had some support from some members of the Indian delegation, however, till the last day there was no agreement on the details; and it was apparent that the meeting would be a failure; and this fear of failure unnerved the Indian delegation. ''There was great anxiety. The mood was tense. If the talks failed, it would mean we would have to keep 93.000 POWs and Pakistan territory. The overriding feeling was that it is okay, if he is giving us this assurance on Kashmir, maybe it will lead to a durable peace. On the last night, at the meeting with Mrs Gandhi, Bhutto agreed he would formally declare the Line of Control as an acceptable boundary in four years' time ' 5

Some Pakistani and Kashmiris have this habit of rejecting every point of view that conflicts with their’s by saying that it is a conspiracy of Jews, Hindus or the West; and there are many innocent people who would believe them as well. And when this contradictory view is coming from an Indian, and moreover, a Hindu they would look at it with great suspicion, even though it might be closer to the reality. To me it would be totally wrong to dismiss a view on the grounds that it was expressed by someone who holds different religious views and perhaps different nationality.

I have read many books and analyses on the Simla Agreement, and to me there is a lot of sense in what Dixit has said. Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan who has held posts of Prime Minister and President of Azad Kashmir, and who is a strong supporter of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan, commented on the topic, he said:

‘In the past Bhutto and other Pakistani Prime Ministers and Presidents were persuaded not to extend branches of their political parties into Kashmir because it would have adverse affect on the Kashmir dispute.’ However, 'after Simla Agreement he (Bhutto) became serious on extending the branch of his party in Azad Kashmir, and he also included in its manifesto the provision of making Azad Kashmir a province of Pakistan and finish this issue for ever. I don't know for certain but there could have been some secret understanding tied with the Simla Agreement. There is nothing on record but it seems as if there was a mutual understanding between both the premiers to end this matter.’ 6

One could still argue that Sardar Qayyum Khan might have been influenced by Dixit's views, but problem with this is that Sardar Sahib wrote about nine years before Dixit's views were made public. Dixit is right that Bhutto sincerely tried to implement the unwritten clause of the Simla Agreement. The following main events would show his sincerity in dividing Jammu and Kashmir:

1.      Soon after the Simla Agreement he extended his Peoples Party to Azad Kashmir, and as noted above, aim was to make Azad Kashmir a fifth province of Pakistan. The idea had to be abandoned after fierce opposition from different Kashmiri parties and especially Pakistani parties.

2.      According to Simla Agreement, both governments had to stop negative propaganda against each other, and to implement this Pakistan stopped such programmes and nationalistic songs on radio Azad Kashmir, that could inspire people of Kashmir to start their struggle for independence.

3.      Apart from that, Chief Imam of Badshai Mosque (Lahore, Pakistan) was asked not include name of Kashmir during his prayer at the time of Islamic Conference in 1973. He prayed for all Muslims of the world, especially those who were suffering like Palestinians, but Kashmiris were left out.

4.      In the Islamic Conference all Muslim leaders were invited, even Yasser Arafat was invited even though, at that time, he did not have two square yards of Palestinian land in his possession. But President of Azad Kashmir was not invited even though he was Prime Minister of an area more than four thousand square miles; and technically represented the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

5.      Nowhere in the Islamic Conference or in its declaration, the Kashmir dispute was mentioned, yet every issue that concerned the Muslim Umma (Muslim countries) was discussed. This again showed what commitment Pakistani government had with the issue of Kashmir; they were not prepared to annoy India by breaching a clause of the Simla Agreement.

6.      Pakistani policy towards areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, known as Northern Areas completely changed; and attempts were made to gradually annex them.

7.      A new Constitution 'INTEREM CONSITUTION OF AZAD KASHMIR ACT, 1974' generally known as Act 74, under which the territory of Azad Kashmir is ruled was introduced, according to which Pakistan virtually controls the Azad Kashmir government. In name this area is Azad but it has very limited powers to function independently.

8.      Section 7.2 of the Act 74 clearly says: "No person or political party in Azad Jammu&Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the state's accession to Pakistan".

9.      Under the Act 74 Kashmir Council was set up, and Prime Minister of Pakistan shall be the Chairperson of the Council. Even though the Pakistani Prime Minister is the Chair person of this Council, and virtually there is no member who could oppose him/her on anything, yet this Council and Azad Kashmir government are not allowed to make any laws on more than 55 important matters concerning Kashmir.

10.  One Indian journalist, Dilip Mukerji wrote that Bhutto government is having difficulties in persuading the people about change of policy on Kashmir. And in view of that Indian government is softening its attitude to make it easy for Bhutto so that he could pay lip service to the issue of Kashmir until it is finally resolved.7

Alastair Lamb is considered as one of the experts on India and Pakistan and Kashmir dispute; however, some view him to have a soft corner for Pakistan. While discussing Simla Agreement, he wrote: 'It seemed at the time as if one clear implication was that the cease-fire line (from henceforth often referred to as the Line of Control or Line of Actual Control - LOC or LOAC) in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, as defined in the Simla Agreement, would from now onwards be to all intents and purposes the de facto border between Indian and Pakistani spheres of influence.8

Bhutto, as expected, announced that he made no compromise on Kashmir; and that the people of Kashmir must exercise their right of self -determination. Well, as they say actions speak louder than words; and we all know what actions he took to damage the Kashmir dispute.
Whatever one may say about Pakistan's support and help to the Kashmir dispute, or Pakistan might claim that she has done for the Kashmiri struggle; the fact is that the Kashmir dispute was put on the back burner after the 1965 war.  But after the 1971 War and subsequent Simla Agreement Kashmir dispute was 'safely' put in a freezer. Sincere attempts were made to convert the LOC into an international border, even though there was strong opposition to this.

Ayaz Amir, a famous columnist of most prominent English daily 'Dawn' wrote: 'The second great folly was ours in East Pakistan. Bangladesh was not lost because of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the East Pakistan Rifles, the Mukti Bahini or even the Indian army. It was born out of the stupidity and arrogance of West Pakistan. The third great sub continental folly is being committed by India in Kashmir. India had fifty years to win over the Kashmiris. But it failed even to satisfy Sheikh Abdullah whose sympathies lay with India not Pakistan. From 1972 to 1989 Pakistan just forgot about Kashmir. Firstly, because it had the loss of East Pakistan to come to terms with. Second because Zia was embroiled in Afghanistan. Were not 18 years long enough to woo the Kashmiris and bind them to Mother India? They would have been if Indian policy had been driven by statesmanship rather than by a search for petty and short-term advantages.9

A prominent writer and thinker, Professor Khurshid Ahmed, who ascribes to ideology of Jamat e Islami, and who was a Director of Islamabad based Think Tank, Institute of Policy Studies, asserted that in Simla India successfully changed the international issue (Kashmir) into a bilateral issue. 10 Apart from that Indian leaders claim that Bhutto agreed to make LOC as an international border, although there is nothing there in writing. But one thing is that after Simla Agreement we avoided raising the Kashmir issue in the United Nations. 11

As pointed out above, after the Simla Agreement the Kashmir dispute was put in a freezer, and successive Pakistani governments did not show much enthusiasm in taking up the Kashmir dispute either with India or at any other international forum.

Benazir Bhutto after becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan also followed the footsteps of her predecessors on the issue of Kashmir. She invited Rajiev Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, to visit Islamabad. On his arrival in Islamabad she ensured that the word Kashmir did not appear anywhere because of fear that her ‘honourable guest’ might get upset. She even ensured that signboards of Kashmir House in Islamabad were also removed. Furthermore, that evening weather forecast for Azad Kashmir was not transmitted on radio and television in Pakistan, something which normally is done many times a day.12

That shows the level of Pakistani Prime Minister's commitment to Simla Agreement and to the Kashmir and Kashmiris. Not only that, when in a joint press conference, Rajiev Gandhi in answer to a question said that there was no need of a plebiscite in Kashmir because there had been eight elections there. Benazir Bhutto sat there quietly with a friendly smile on her face. She did not have this courage to say that it was India's point of view and Pakistani point of view was different to this.13

One Kashmiri journalist and writer, late Mir Abdul Aziz, remarked that her smile was sweet, but it did not help the Kashmir cause or the Kashmiri people. 14 People of Pakistan and Kashmir expected much more than this lovely smile in response to Indian Prime Minister's arrogant stance on Kashmir. This smile and silence indicated that she agreed with her guest's point of view on Kashmir.

I hope people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will recognise friends and foes and will oppose division of our homeland, as we believe division of Jammu and Kashmir in any shape or form will only exacerbate the situation and destabilise the entire region. Also I hope that people will recognise those who have transformed our struggle in to a lucrative business; and have perpetuated our suffering miseries.


1.      GW Choudhury, Last Days of United Pakistan, page xii
2.      Divided On Kashmir, The News, London, 16 August 1999
3.      Simla Agreement
4.      The Errors of SIMLA, By J N Dixit The Rediff Special, July 15, 2001
5.      Ibid
6.      The Kashmir Case, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, page111
7.      Weekly 'Sahafat', Lahore, 23 April 1975.
8.      Kashmir A Disputed Legacy 1846-1990, Alastair Lamb, page 297
9.      'There is no Kashmir solution' by Ayaz Amir, ‘Dawn’ 8 December 2000
10.  Kashmir Dispute and our responsibilities, Prof. Khurshid Ahmed, Daily Jang, London, 9 July 1994.
11.  ibid
12.  ibid
  1. Late Mir Abdul Aziz was an editor of Weekly Insaf, published from Rawalpindi. He made this observation during a meeting with the author in Rawalpindi at his residence.
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir 

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