Slugfest about Simla Accord bilateralism

Even Simla Accord accepts the United Nations’ resolutions. Paragraph 1(i) of the Simla Agreement provides,`the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries

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Kashmir remains a disputed state, as admitted by India and Pakistan on all international forums. Even Simla Accord accepts the United Nations’ resolutions. Paragraph 1(i) of the Simla Agreement provides,`the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries’.

The United Nations’ Military Observers’ Groups created between 1949 and 1951 are still on duty on the line of actual control. They submit annual report to the UN’s secretary general. This report identifies Kashmir as an unresolved international problem.

Read More: Is Pakistan’s political map of disputed Jammu and Kashmir really an “absurdity”?

India’s obeisance to the UN

India never called upon the United Nations’ Commission on India and Pakistan to refer the matter to International Court of Justice. While the Security Council debated the Kashmir issue, India kept parroting, at home, abroad and in the Council, its commitment to whatever the Council decided. Simla accord 

Till about 1953, India continued to reiterate its promise to hold a plebiscite. On November 2, 1947, Nehru declared in a radio broadcast that the government of India was “prepared, when peace and order have been established in Kashmir, to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations.” (Chaudhri Mohammad Ali’s The Emergence of Pakista). Nehru, in a letter dated October 31, 1947, addressed to the disputed state’s prime minister, on the fourth day of `signing’ of the mythical accession instrument promised plebiscite.

The letter says ‘after consideration of the problem, we are inclined to think that it [plebiscite] should be held under United Nations’ auspices (p. 28 ibid.). He reiterated in New Delhi on November 3, 1951 that `we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar] as we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council, or the United Nations’(SWJ: Volume 4: page 292, Bhasin p.228).

Again, at a press conference on June 11, 1951, he was asked `if the proposed constituent assembly of Kashmir “decides in favour of acceding to Pakistan, what will be the position?”’ He reiterated,`We have made it perfectly clear that the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir was not meant to decide finally any such question , and it is not in the way of any decision which may ultimate flow from the Security Council proceedings’ (SWJ: Volume 15:, Part II, page 394. Bhasin page 56).

He re-emphasised his view once again at a press conference in New Delhi on November 3, 1951. He said ‘we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar as] we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council or the United Nations.’ Simla accord  

Bhasin points out (page 57 op. cit.) `At the press conference on 24 July, 1952 when asked what the necessity of plebiscite was now that he had got the Constituent Assembly, he replied “Maybe theoretically you may be right. But we have given them an assurance and we stand by it (SWJ: Volume 19, pp. 240-241. Bhasin p. 57).

Read More: India’s claims on Kashmir rest on a dubious legal instrument

No Secret clauses in Simla Accord

The false impression of UN being debarred on Kashmir dispute was created by P. N. Dhar, former Secretary to the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (who was a member of the Indian delegation at Simla). Dhar writing in the Times of India in April 1995, made some (unsubstantiated) assertions (Times of India April 4, 1995).

Among them:

(a) “Bhutto agreed not only to change the ceasefire line into a line of control…but also agreed that the line would be gradually endowed with the characteristics of an international border”.

(b) “This was the understanding between the leaders of the two countries and this was the Simla solution of the Kashmir problem”.

(c) “It was agreed that the understanding would not be a written one. The insertion of secret clauses in the Agreement was considered inconsistent with the desire to build a structure of durable peace”.

Mr. Dhar’s assertions in 1995 are untenable as both leaders had since passed away. However, Indira Gandhi had personally refuted Mr. Vajpayee’s claim in 1978 of the existence of a ‘secret understanding’ between herself and Bhutto at Simla.

Bhasin clarifies (page 256), `It may also be added in parentheses that soon after PN Dhar’s article was published in the Times of India, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesman rejected any suggestion that there was any secret understanding at Simla.

Since Benazir Bhutto, now herself the prime minister, was present at Simla with her father, and was in the loop on the daily proceedings. PN Dhar specifically in his article said that there was no written understanding (Bhasin Document No. 1348 in India-Pakistan Relations 1947-2007), but the Simla Agreement was written in a manner that this understanding would be seen between the lines’.

Dhar, of course, did not own up to his lapse for not recording what Mrs. Gandhi had told him after the one-to-one meeting. Whatever the understanding, it remained conjectural’ (Bhasin pages 256-257).

Read More: India and China fundamentally misunderstand each other on the LAC

Simla Accord: India wins? 

Bhasin says (p. 256), ‘At the end, Bhutto the “dramatist” carried the day at Simla. The Agreement signed in Simla did no more than call for `respecting the Line of Control emerging from the ceasefire of 17 December 1971.

As the Foreign Secretary TN Kaul [of India] said at briefing of the heads of foreign mission in New Delhi on 4 July 1972, the recognition of the new ceasefire line ended the UNMOGIPs role in Kashmir, created specifically  for the supervision of the UN sponsored ceasefire line of 1949, since that line existed no more. Having said that India once again faltered for not asking UN to withdraw its team from Kashmir, or withdrawing its own recognition to it and its privileges (Document No. 0712 in Bhasin’s India-Pakistan Relations 1947-207).

Bhasin says (p.257-259), `The Pakistan Radio broadcasts and…commentators however took special pains to highlight …the fact: (i) That India has accepted Kashmir to be a disputed territory and Pakistan a party to the dispute. (ii) That the UNSC resolutions had not been nullified and countries (iii) Kashmir remained the core issue between the two countries and that there could not be permanent peace without a just solution based on the principle of self-determination for the people of Kashmir.

And Pakistan was right in its assessment. It lost the war won the peace. At the end India was left askance at its own wisdom’.

Read More: Riots in India: History, causes & trends

What Pakistan should do?

Like Nepal, Pakistan should get its political map enacted through its parliament. It should be widely circulated. Nepal distributed 65,000 maps throughout the country, besides selling them at Rs. 50 per piece. Copies of the enacted map were immediately sent to India, UN and Google. About India’s cartographic aggression, AG Noorani sarcastically comments, ‘Maps are not documents of title. … If they conflict with the state’s claims, they can constitute an admission.

Published to create evidence, they are worthless. You cannot claim Mexico by showing it as Indian territory on our maps. The value of foreign maps depends on their provenance, whether in a work of learning or otherwise. Maps in periodicals or books published after a dispute has arisen do not affect either side’s case; only the mental balance of some Indian officials, which is precarious even at the best of times.’

Pakistan should stress revision of J&K political map is consistent with Muslim Conference’s resolution, AJ&K’s constitution, and UN resolutions. But, India’s cartographic annexation amounts to violations of UN’s resolutions, a real absurdity.

Mr. Amjed Jaaved is editor of the monthly magazine, The Consul. He has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of eight e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus. The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.


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