Shimla Pact and Lahore Agreement
In news: Hours after US President Donald Trump claimed India had sought his help solve the Kashmir dispute, leader after leader, across the Indian political divide, cited the Simla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999 to stress that Kashmir is a bilateral issue. But what are these treaties?
SIMLA AGREEMENT, 1972
Signed by: Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on July 2, 1972, in the capital of Himachal Pradesh.
The agreement was a peace treaty signed by the two nations after the end of the 1971 Bangladesh war. Bangladesh had been a part of Pakistan since the 1947 Partition. In 1971, it waged a war of independence against Pakistan. India entered the war as an ally of Bangladesh which transformed the war into an Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The agreement was ratified by the parliaments of both the nations in the same year.
The Simla Agreement sought to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war i.e. to bring about withdrawals of troops and an exchange of prisoners of war (PoWs).
- The agreement resolved that the two countries put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have marred their relations and work for the promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship.
- Established a mutual commitment to the peaceful resolution of all issues through direct bilateral approaches.
- Said that both sides shall always respect each other’s national unity, territorial integrity, political independence and sovereign equality.
- It converted the cease-fire line of 17 December 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”.
- Most importantly, the Simla Agreement established that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. India has, many times, cited the Simla Agreement to deny any third-party intervention in the Kashmir dispute, including that of the United Nations.
LAHORE DECLARATION, 1999
The Lahore Declaration was a bilateral agreement and governance treaty between India and Pakistan. The treaty was signed on 21 February 1999, at the conclusion of a historic summit in Lahore, and ratified by the parliaments of both countries the same year. The declaration was signed by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
The accord was vital to Indo-Pak relations at it came at a time when both countries had established themselves as atomic powers through publicly performed nuclear tests in 1998. Under the terms of the treaty, a mutual understanding was reached towards the development of atomic arsenals and to avoid accidental and unauthorised operational use of nuclear weapons.
It signalled a major breakthrough in overcoming the historically strained bilateral relations between the two nations.
- It recognized that the nuclear dimension of the security environment of the two countries adds to their responsibility for avoidance of conflict between them.
- Committed both to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and the universally accepted principles of peaceful co-existence.
- Committed both countries to the objectives of universal nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
- Reiterated the determination of both countries to implementing the Shimla Agreement in letter and spirit.
- Was meant to intensify India and Pakistan’s composite and integrated dialogue process for an early and positive outcome of the agreed bilateral agenda.
- The treaty stressed on India and Pakistan’s resolve to combat terrorism and mutual non-interference in internal affairs.
Connecting the Dots:
What were the key features of the Shimla Agreement signed by India and Pakistan post 1971 war? Critics say that the agreement was a lost opportunity for India. What do you think? Critically Comment.