Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 had resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan and the emergence of Bangladesh. India had taken around 90,000 Pakistani troops as prisoners of war to India after their surrender in East Pakistan on December 16, 1971. Moreover, India had occupied huge tracks of Pakistani territory along its border with West Pakistan.
After the break up of the country, Bhutto took over power in the remaining part of Pakistan. Bhutto was a popular leader as his Party had won overwhelming support in the 1970 elections in West Pakistan. The people expected Bhutto to bring back the prisoners of war and rebuild Pakistan as a great nation.
Bhutto saw things could not be reversed. Similarly, the continuation of confrontation would result in further damage to his country. Under these circumstances, Bhutto invited India for a peaceful settlement of issues. India accepted the offer of talks and normalization of relations between both states. This led to the signing of the Simla Agreement between the two neighboring in 1972.
The main point of the Simla Agreement 1972
Simla Agreement 1972 signed between Pakistan and India on 2 July 1972 contains the following important points:
- India and Pakistan would resolve the issue of Kashmir only through bilateral dialogue. None of the signatories would approach the United Nations (UN) or any other country for mediation.
- India would release prisoners of war to Pakistan in return for the promise from Pakistan to engage with only India for the resolution of the Kashmir Issue.
- Cease Fire Line would be the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir, Ladakh, and Gilgit-Baltistan between India and Pakistan.
- “Neither of the states would seek any changes in Line of control on its own.
Impact of the Simla Agreement 1972 on Pakistan
On an immediate basis, the Simla Agreement had a very positive impact in many aspects such as;
- it enhanced the image of Pakistan as Bhutto offered an invitation of negotiation to bring peace in the region.
- it increased the popularity of Bhutto within Pakistan as a leader. The agreement also increased the popularity of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as India released 90, 000 Pakistani soldiers who were languishing in Indian jails.
- India did not return many of the areas in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) that it had occupied during the war.
Long term Impact
The Simla agreement in 1972 discouraged international mediation with regard to the Kashmir issue. According to the agreement, both countries would address outstanding issues including the issue of Kashmir through mutual understanding and bilateral dialogue.
As felt bound by the agreement, Pakistan did not take the issue to international forums expecting India to cooperate in implementation upon the agreement in letter and spirit. Contrary to Pakistan’s approach, India avoided negotiations and did not bother to come to talks on one pretext or the other.
Thus the Indian reluctance to resolve the Kashmir issue put Pakistan in a dilemma. If Pakistan took the issue to the UN or sought the mediation of any other country, it would be a violation of the Simla Agreement. If Pakistan relied on India, India would never come to talks. Caught in this dilemma of what to do, Pakistan had no other option but to demand resolution of the Kashmir issue in light of United Nations Resolutions. India’s response to any proposed mediation of any third party i.e. UNO has been always non-cooperative.
Thus India has used the Simla Agreement as a blackmailing tactic instead of an opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue. Consequently, Pakistan has started mobilizing the international community to play its role in the resolution of the Kashmir Issue.