Kashmir: The Storm center of the World
Table of Contents
   About the Author
   Abode of Kashyap
   The Making of J&K
   Hundred Years of Dogra Rule
   Quit Kashmir Movement
   Hari Singh's Dilemma
   Accession to India
   First Indo-Pak War
   Bungling at U.N.
   Kashmir Divided
   The Dixon Proposals
   Shadow of Cold War
   The Chinese Factor
   Indo-Pak War of 1965
   Indo-Pak War of 1971
   The Great Betrayal
   Back to Square One
   War by Proxy
   The Way Out
   Book in pdf format  
   Official Site  

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Chapter 15

The Great Betrayal

War 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 result.

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 beginning.

The second 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.

Peace settlement 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 world."

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."

It further 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, 1949."

But, it had no effect on Indian leadership. It learned nothing from past experience.

The settlement 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.

But Indira 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.

Bhutto, after 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.

Article IV 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 relations."

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.

Shimla agreement 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.

Steeped in 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.

Defense Minister, 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 issue alive.

Shimla agreement 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.

India failed 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.

Kashmir: The Storm Center of the World



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