has been described as diplomacy carried out by other means because the
final outcome of all wars is, in the ultimate analysis determined by diplomatic
talks for a peace settlement. As such even stunning victories in the battlefield
if not followed by effective diplomacy by political leadership yield little
It has been
the tragedy of India since freedom that its political leadership has proved
singularly inept and unrealistic in the diplomatic and political follow
up of the war, that were forced on it by Pakistan in 1947, 1965 and 1971.
This failure of its political leadership in dealing with Pakistan can be
attributed to three main reasons. The first is its failure to go to the
root of Muslim separation and accept the logical corrolaries of partition
in 1947. As a result its policy toward Pakistan has been a continuation
of its appeasement policy toward the founding father of Pakistan in United
India. Its perception of the motivations of Pakistan and the real cause
of its hostility toward India has, therefore, been faulty from the very
reason is its failure to define in clear terms Indian nationhood, national
objectives and war aims if a war is forced on it.
The third reason
is its failure to co-relate Indian foreign policy with defense needs of
free India. Talk about principled foreign policy is meaningless and misleading.
Primary concern of foreign policy of any country has to be safeguarding
of national interests particularly security interests. Objective understanding
and assessment of the character and .nvtivation of the coulntries and elements
from which threat to national security can come is an essential pre-requisite
for a sound defense and foreign policy.
The war of
1971 was fought on two fronts. Pakistan had not much inte rest in the war
in the Eastern sector because its leadership had mentally reconciled itself
to the loss of East Pakistan. Its main interests lay in the war on the
western front. There its objective was to gain Kashmir.
India had vital
stake in the war on both these fronts. War in the East was basically a
war of liberation of the people of Bangla Desh who wanted to get rid of
the colonial rule of West Pakistan. Apart from humanitarian considerations,
India was interested in peace and security of Bangla Desh because of the
large Hindu-Buddhist minority there and interdependence of economics of
Bangla Desh and West Bengal. India's national interests demanded a stable
Bangla Desh committed to equal treatment to all its citizens which is the
basic postulate of secularism and speedy return and resettlement of about
10 million Hindu refugees. But interests of Hindu refugees demanded that
they should be resettled in a compact area along the India Bangla Desh
border with some kind of constitutional guarantee about their basic rights.
Buddhist people of Chittagong Hill Tract, which had been wrongly given
to Pakistan in 1947 wanted at least an autonomous state for their home
land within Bangla Desh. The recurring influx of Chakma Buddhist refugees
from the Chittagong Hill Tract into Tripura and West Bengal made it necessary
that their position was clearly defined and their rights safeguarded in
any settlement with Bangla Desh.
made by Indian leadership with Mujibur Rehman, the President of Bangla Desh, failed to safe guard any of these interests. Bangla Desh has declared
itself an Islamic state and has been drawing closer to Islamic Pakistan.
The plight of its Hindu - Buddhist minority has become even worse. There
is need of an indepth study of condition of Hindu Buddhist minority in
Bangla Desh. The biggest genocide of the century in the name of Islam has
been going on there all these years.
The war in
the west was forced on India by the rulers of Pakistan with the specific
objective of grabbing Kashmir. Therefore, peace settlement with the remaining
Pakistan in the background of decisive victory won by Indian armed forces
on the battle field, was the real test of Indian leadership.
In the light
of the dismal performance of Indian leadership in the situation that followed
the cease-fire in the war of 1947 - 48 and war of 1965, many Indians were
genuinely worried about another diplomatic fiasco after the war. Some of
them had formed a group under the names "India first club". I had been
associated with it from its inception. While the war was on, this group
prepared a note about India's "War aims and objectives." It was published
in the form of a monograph for the consideration of the political leadership
and policy makers.
In my introduction
to that monograph, I had written:
"At a time
when our jawans and officers of all the three services are locked in a
life and death struggle against another Pakistani aggression, a clear enunciation
and declaration of India's war aims and objectives, has become a real necessity.
It is important that the blood of our brave soldiers, is not shed in vain
and the gains made in the battlefield are not lost on the negotiation table
for want of clarity about our long term objective. The mistakes of the
past must be avoided to ensure a lasting peace in the Indian region of
The note warned
the government of ]ndia that there should be no repetition of Tashkent
this time and made some concrete suggestions. The first suggestion was
that India must "declare a peninsular doctrine and accept the princip]e
of India's predominant interest in the Indian sub-continent while respecting
at the same time the territorial rights and sovereignty of all states."
suggested that "any peace settlement with Pakistan must restore the legal
right of India on the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir state including
the part under illegal occupation of Pakistan since the Cease-Fire of January,
But, it had
no effect on Indian leadership. It learned nothing from past experience.
made with Pakistan at Shimla on July 3, 1972, was a real fiasco. It literally
turned the vanquished into a victor. Instead of utilizing the convincing
victory won by the Indian armed forces in the December war for setting
the Kashmir issue at rest, Indira Gandhi converted the military victory
into political defeat by re-opening the Kashmir issue and explicitly accepting
Pakistan as a party to it. This virtually put back the Kashmir issue where
it stood on January 1, 1949.
The crux of
the Kashmir problem from its inception is that Pakistan has occupied by
force about 30,000 square miles of the territories of erstwhile Jammu and
Kashmir state which legally and constitutionally belonged to India by virtue
of the Instrument of Accession executed by Maharaja Hari Singh in October,
19, 1947. The question was how to get back this territory from Pakistan.
There was no
question of Pakistan having any claim or locus standi in that part of the
state including Kashmir Valley which remained with India after the ceasefire
of January 1, l949.
The only realistic
and logical stand of India at Shimla should have been an unequivocal demand
for vacating of Pak aggression and return of 30,000 square miles of occupied
territory to India in return for vacating of Pak territory occupied by
the Indian armed forces in the war of 1971.
Gandhi and her advisers had given away the Indian case even before the
Shirnla Conference began. D. P. Dhar, when he visited Islamabad as special
envoy of the Indian Prime Minister to prepare the ground for Shimla summit
was reported to have conveyed to Bhutto that India would be willing to
concede his demands about vacating of Pak territory and release of the
prisoners-of- war if he was prepared to accept the line of control in Jammu
and Kashmir as international frontier between India and Pakistan. Dhar
returned with the impression that Bhutto was agreeable to this suggestion.
having known the mind of India went on a West Asian tour to consult his
Islamic friends. He pleaded with them that he could stand up to India only
if they promised him massive monetary and military help. After having got
firm commitment of help, he planned his strategy for Shimla. He came there
determined not to accept the line of control as international boundary
and relinquish his claim to Kashmir. The Shimla summit, therefore, virtually
failed to arrive at any agreement.
But after the
failure had been broadcast to the world, Bhutto had a midnight exclusive
meeting with Indira Gandhi in which he was presumed to have given some
verbal assurance to her. Thereafter the Shimla agreement was signed.
of the Agreement stipulated that "in Jammu and Kashmir the line of control
resulting from the ceasefire of December 17, 1971, shall be respected by
both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side.
Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally irrespective of mutual
differences and legal intepretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain
from the threat or use of force in violation of this line." Article VI
of the agreement further stipulated that "both governments agree that their
respective heads will meet again and in the meantime the representatives
of the two sides will meet to discuss the modalities and arrangements for
the establishment of durable peace and normalization of relations including
the question of repatriation of prisoners-of-war and civilian internees,
a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir and the resumption of diplomatic
It is clear
from these two Articles that the Shimla agreement not only re-opened the
Kashmir question but also made Pakistan a party to any settlement of that
question. This completely nullified the declared and often-repeated stand
of India that Kashmir was not negotiable and that Pakistan had no locus
standi in Kashmir.
came as a rude shock to all nationalists and patriots and stunned the armed
forces. It was almost a body blow to those who had won a brilliant victory
in the battlefield at a very heavy cost. They rightly considered it a betrayal
af the armed forces and the nation.
British tradition, Indian armed forces had not dabbled in politics and
political decision making since freedom. But this betrayal impelled some
top leaders of defense forces to think seriously about replacement of the
political leadership. For some time India stood dangerously near to a military
coup. It did not come about mainly because there was no poli tical leader
of stature and status enjoying confidence of the people an defense forces
alike, at hand.
Babu Jagiwan Ram, was the only senior leader of the ruling Congress Party,
who felt really sore about the Shimla Agreement. He was particularly opposed
to having Chhamb area of Jammu in the hands of Pakistan while India had
agreed to vacate 5000 square miles of Pak territory of great strategic
and economic importance which Indian troops had occupied during the war.
To add insult
to injury Government of India and official media tried to sell this document
of national shame as an achievement. Successive government at New Delhi
have been harking upon the Agreement all these years. But, Pakistan which
was the real gainer, had been using it only as an instrument to keep Kashmir
was, in a way, a personal victory of Z. A. Bhutto. He proved himself to
be a master diplomat. It greatly strengthened his position in Pakistan.
to get back Chhamb. When it had agreed to vacate much bigger Pak territory
proved that Indian Government was prepared to compromise its legal claim
not only on Pak occupied part of the state but also on the territory that
was under its control. Shimla agreement was thus not just a repetition
of Tashkent. It was much worse because Indian position in 1972 was much
stronger than what it was in 1966.
In the absence
of definite evidence, it is difficult to say whether Soviet Union plaved
any role in the Shimla settlement. But the fact that many of these who
had accompanied Lal Bahadur Shastri to Tashkent, and had pressured him
to toe the Soviet line there, were also the advisors of Mrs. Gandhi at Shimla, lends support to the view that the Soviet Union did play some role,
may be indirectly, in finalization of this Agreement at the last moment.