India-Pakistan Relations

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  • Jaya Pradeep asked: What were the major signposts of the Simla Agreement of 1972? What is its relevance in the present scenario?

    Ashok K. Behuria replies: The Simla Agreement signed between India and Pakistan on July 2, 1972 was a signpost in the sense that it involved a commitment from Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues with India bilaterally. The text of the Agreement (clause ii) clearly stated:

    “That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them. Pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation and both shall prevent the organization, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peace and harmonious relations.”

    Until then, Pakistan emphasised on external mediation, either by any powerful country or by the United Nations. Therefore, it was regarded as a diplomatic victory for India following Pakistan's conclusive defeat in the 1971 war that led to its division and formation of Bangladesh.

    However, there is a strong view that India squandered away an opportunity to resolve the issue of Kashmir and, as is clear from the memoirs of diplomats and journalists covering the Simla summit, Bhutto displayed rare diplomatic ability to sway the negotiations in Pakistan's favour, and walked away with a verbal commitment to work sincerely towards converting the Line of Control or LoC (until then it was called ceasefire line or CFL) as the international border between India and Pakistan. It was not too long after the Agreement was signed that Bhutto, in a public speech, repudiated the Agreement and reportedly stated that as a Muslim he was not bound by the terms and conditions of an Agreement that he had signed with a Kafir.

    While Simla Agreement has been invoked by India on several occasions to remind Pakistan of its commitment to resolve outstanding issues bilaterally through peaceful means, Pakistan has violated the spirit of the Agreement not only by raking up bilateral issues in international fora, but also by using terror as an instrument to interfere in the internal affairs of India ever since. The decade long militancy (1989-1999) in Kashmir, the armed intrusion in Kargil and the ongoing Pakistani efforts to revive militancy in the Kashmir Valley demonstrate Pakistani intentions not to abide by the terms of the Simla Agreement. This is worrisome.

    However, the Indian efforts to engage Pakistan in a constructive dialogue, despite Pakistan's penchant for using terror as an instrument of its policy vis-à-vis India, may go a long way in reinforcing the spirit of the Simla Agreement and reaping international goodwill which may pressurise Pakistan to behave responsibly in future.

    India-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Meet: The Hype and the Substance

    India and Pakistan have signed a visa liberalization agreement and reactivated the joint commission during the last round of foreign minister level talks in Islamabad. These are significant steps forward but lot more can be done to make the process of bilateral engagement irreversible.

    September 17, 2012

    Krishnakanth asked: Is it necessary for India to supply 500MW of electricity to Pakistan when India itself is facing acute power shortage?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: Similar questions can be asked about Indian aid/assistance of $2billion to Afghanistan or $1 billion credit line to Bangladesh, when many parts of India are languishing in poverty and disease. Foreign policy of a country is run on pragmatic principles. A nation has to make certain tangible sacrifices in return for intangible gains.

    NATO Supply-Lines: Crocodile Tears and India Dilute Pakistan’s Ghairat

    Regardless of the spin and gloss that Pakistan puts on the decision to re-open NATO supply lines to Afghanistan, it was in large measure the result of sustained US economic, political and diplomatic pressure.

    July 06, 2012

    Samadhan Vilas Patil asked: Is Siachen deal with Pakistan in India’s interest?

    Reply: It is argued by peaceniks on either side that the Indian military’s presence in the Siachen region at the cost of nearly Rs. 3000 crores per annum is too costly and unaffordable from the point of view of the debate on development-versus-defence. The alternative is demilitarisation with a bilateral agreement not to reoccupy the heights at any cost and eventual delimitation or demarcation. Demilitarisation is much easier than demarcation, which will take long and protracted negotiations. The basic issue of lack of trust which is coming in the way of resolution of Siachen will not be addressed by withdrawal and may not lead to delimitation.

    Moreover, with the geo-strategic importance of Siachen increasing at the moment because of the expanding footprints of China in the Gilgit-Baltistan, any resolution of the issue emphasising on demilitarisation of the region will hurt India’s strategic interests. Demilitarisation will mean vacating the military posts from Saltoro which gives Indian army an advantage at the moment. Even if Pakistan were to recognise Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), the strategic costs of withdrawal will be much heavier for India than for Pakistan. Indian military is distinctly unprepared for such an eventuality. At a time, when Pakistan is finding it difficult to maintain its forces in the Siachen sector, from a realist perspective, it hardly makes sense for India to make these strategic concessions. Defence analysts in India believe that the cost is not unaffordable while the experience gained by Indian troops in high altitude warfare is invaluable.

    In view of the above, any argument for resolution of Siachen issue with Pakistan, leading to complete withdrawal of Indian military from the Siachen heights, will have to be carefully analysed.

    Indo-Pak Relations: Peace Paroxysms Strike Again

    Instead of taking leave of its senses every time someone from across the border coos sweet nothings, India needs to set metrics by which to judge Pakistan and then take steps to reciprocate any positive measures from the other side.

    May 14, 2012

    Drug Trafficking in India: A Case for Border Security

    Drug Trafficking in India: A Case for Border Security

    Trafficking of drugs takes place overwhelmingly through land borders followed by sea and air routes. Given the vulnerability of the borders to drug trafficking, India has tried to tackle the problem through the strategy of drug supply and demand reduction, which involves enacting laws, co-operating with voluntary organisations, securing its borders and coasts by increasing surveillance, as well as seeking the active cooperation of its neighbours and the international community.

    Deciphering Kayani-Speak: One Avalanche Leads to Another?

    If the tragedy of Gayari has induced some sense of introspection in the leadership of the Pakistan Army, it may be a fitting tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the avalanche.

    April 20, 2012

    Nuclear Weapons and Conflict Transformation: The Case of India–Pakistan by Saira Khan

    There are many volumes on conflict resolution and nuclear proliferation. While the conflict scholarship focuses on management, resolution and transformation of conflicts, the proliferation scholarship examines why states acquire nuclear weapons in the first place and whether or not these have any deterrent value. The book under review goes beyond these two prospects by questioning what happens when a state, in protracted conflicts, acquires nuclear weapons.

    March 2012

    Sandeep Madkar asked: Can or should India acquire parts of Kashmir which are under Chinese and Pakistani control, either diplomatically or forcefully?

    Priyanka Singh replies: The entire Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India by virtue of the Instrument of Accession signed in 1947. Hence, India certainly should claim parts of the state which are under the illegal control of Pakistan and China. Aggression or use of force is not a rational approach and overall it does not fit within India’s traditional policy framework. To regain the lost territory by force, therefore, does not appear to be a prudent choice for India. Diplomatic channels are more viable and are likely to bear favourable results in the long-term provided they are pursued rigorously and on a consistent basis. In this regard, India needs to be forthcoming about its claim on parts of Kashmir under Pakistani and Chinese occupation. There is also a need to ensure that India’s claim on the lost sub regions of Kashmir (under Pakistan and China) are taken up appropriately in its dealings with both Pakistan and China. India needs to duly strengthen its case on the lost parts of Jammu and Kashmir based on the legality of the Instrument of Accession.