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Shimla Agreement was signed at Shimla, India, by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the President of Pakistan, and Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India on the night of July 2nd, 1972. The agreement was much more than a peace treaty seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war (i.e. to bring about withdrawals of troops and an exchange of PoWs). For India, some of the favourable outcomes with this agreement are:
- The agreement paved the way for diplomatic recognition of Bangladesh by Pakistan.
- The agreement converted the cease-fire line of December 17, 1971 into the ‘Line of Control (LOC)’ between India and Pakistan and it was agreed that “neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations”.
It enabled India to end the tenure of the UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan), as it was charged with maintaining peace along the ‘ceasefire line’ established by the Karachi Agreement (1949), which no longer is valid.
Shimla Agreement and Kashmir Issue
Via article III of the agreement, the two countries had resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through ‘bilateral negotiations’ or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them. This clause opposed third party intervention and insisted on bilateral mechanism for resolution of issues between India and Pakistan. However, some of the decisions taken as part of Shimla agreement have led to loss of a golden opportunity to resolve the issue of Kashmir on permanent basis.
The two major decisions taken by New Delhi, and incorporated into the Shimla Agreement that drew most flak were to return the territories captured by India across the international border and to return the 93,000 (mostly military but also civilian) prisoners of war (POWs) to Pakistan without a written agreement for converting ‘Line of Control’ (LoC) to International boundary. Lack of proper border resolution between India and Pakistan is one of the major reasons for ongoing turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir. Ongoing ceasefire violations, Kargil war could have been prevented if the agreement was drafted with more foresight and maturity.
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