Question – The Simla Agreement (1972) and Lahore Declaration (1999) are two key milestones in the history of the Indian subcontinent. Discuss. – 19 November 2021
Answer – The issue of Kashmir in the Indian subcontinent pushed India and Pakistan into the flames of conflict with war soon after independence. This resulted in the bloody wars of 1965 and 1971. In the midst of the conflict, some agreements were made in the hope of peace between the two sides. The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration are still the most important framework in this context. Both these agreements remain important and relevant because of the various far-reaching implications of the terms contained in both the agreements.
Following conditions included in the Simla Agreement (1972) after the Indo-Pak war of 1971:
- The ceasefire line of 7 December 1971 was changed to the Line of Control (LOC), and provided that the two sides would not unilaterally attempt to change it despite mutual differences and legal interpretations.
- Establish a mutual commitment to peaceful resolution of all issues through a direct bilateral approach.
- Respect for each other’s national unity, territorial integrity, political independence and sovereign equality.
- Recalling troops, and exchanging POWs.
- To eliminate conflicts and conflicts that threaten relations, and to promote friendly and cordial relations.
Thus, the Simla Agreement established bilateral dialogue as the preferred framework for resolving differences between the two countries. This effectively ended the role of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in this conflict.
India has often cited the agreement to reject any third party interference in the Kashmir issue. For example, India has turned down a recent offer made by the President of the United States of America to mediate on the issue.
The Lahore Declaration 1999 contains the following conditions:
- Recognizing the nuclear dimension of security and taking responsibility for the avoidance of any conflict.
- Committed to the principles of the United Nations and peaceful coexistence.
- Commitment to the objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
- Implementation of Shimla Agreement in letter and spirit.
- Resolve to combat terrorism and mutual non-interference in internal affairs.
The Lahore Declaration, signed after the historic Lahore Summit, came at a time when both countries had acquired nuclear weapons capability and there was growing unease between the two countries about any conflict for a nuclear war. This marked a major breakthrough in controlling the historically strained bilateral ties between the two countries. This agreement was to intensify the holistic and integrated dialogue process of India and Pakistan for an early and positive outcome of the bilateral agenda. However, the commencement of the Kargil conflict prevented an immediate consolidation of the context set out by the agreement. Nonetheless, related theories have remained relevant in the context of two nuclear capable neighbors. Thus, the Shimla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999 remain relevant and important for the Indian subcontinent even today.