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Pak tried to skirt Simla accord
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 1
At the recent Foreign Secretary-level dialogue between India and Pakistan, the Pakistani side had tried its best to ensure that the Joint Statement does not include any reference to the 1972 Simla Agreement.

The second para of the Joint Statement, which says: "They reiterated their commitment to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and their determination to implement the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit", is being seen here as a victory of diplomacy of both sides.

The clubbing together of the UN Charter and the Simla Agreement shows the accommodative nature of the two sides and the fact that they are willing to break new grounds to find a solution to their bilateral disputes. It is understood that the reference to UN Charter (which talks of self-determination for Kashmiris) is to please Pakistan, while the reference to Simla Agreement is to please India.

In the wake of the June 28 Indo-Pak Joint Statement, issued after the Foreign Secretaries' meeting, some not very well informed and perhaps politically motivated criticism of Simla Agreement has somehow found criticism in public domain.

The baffling criticism came from none other than former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, who, speaking as a BJP spokesman on June 29, termed as "intriguing" the reference in the same sentence of UN Charter and Simla Agreement. "It clearly weakens our approach that all issues between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally and may give an opening to Pakistan to bring in the old UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir and to involve third parties in the negotiations". His view was that Indo-Pak relations had not remained frozen after the Simla Agreement and a number of developments of far-reaching importance had taken place between then and now.

According to well-informed people here, the Simla Agreement put the final nail in the coffin of United Nations Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.

It was at Simla that the Ceasefire Line (CFL) of the UN resolution was converted into Line of Control thereby signalling clearly that there was a new situation. It was after the Simla Agreement that the Indian government had informed the UN in 1972 that it no longer required any role for United Nations Monitoring Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in Jammu and Kashmir.

It was the Simla Agreement that specifically brought in a reference to bilateral resolution of differences before India and Pakistan. Since the Simla Agreement, bilateralism has been one central tenet of Indiaís policy towards Pakistan and this approach has been sustained since then for 32 years.

The international community has also supported the bilateral approach because of the Simla Agreement. It was in this Agreement that sanctity was given to LoC and a specific provision brought in that no unilateral action should be taken to change the LoC.

During the Kargil crisis, India got full international support against Pakistanís misadventure in 1999 because of this provision in the Simla Agreement.

It is Pakistan that always wants to avoid a reference to the Simla Agreement. In fact, there is criticism in Pakistan of their Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar for allowing a reference to the Simla Agreement.

The Simla Agreement makes a clear divide between post-UN Resolutions and post-1971 framework for India and Pakistan relations.

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