From Tashkent to Lahore: A Tale of Broken Promises

Jan 12th, 2016 | Category: Articles

Sarah Khan

Pakistan and India share a long history of broken promises, false hopes and suspended peace dialogues. Since 1947, occasionally leaders of India signed peace agreements on Pakistan’s proposals but none of these agreements could bring peace among the two neighbours due to extremist ideology followed by Hindus. Whenever Pakistani leaders took a step forward towards peace, it was responded with cold shoulder from Indian side. On few odd occasions when Indian political government agreed to resolve outstanding issues, the process was sabotaged by hardliners of RSS by stage managing terrorist incidents on Indian or Pakistani soil.

Tashkent Decalaration was signed between India and Pakistan on 10 January 1966. The peace agreement was moderated by the former Soviet Union after India and Pakistan engaged in war in 1965. The meeting began on January 4, 1966, and was chaired by then USSR premier Alexei Kosygin with then president Ayub Khan from Pakistan and Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahdur Shastri. It was all shattered into pieces years later when the India instigated Mukti Bahini’s in East Pakistan and waged war against Pakistan in 1971, leading to the accession of East Pakistan and along the way ignoring the pledges made in Tashkent declaration.

After war of 1971, Pakistan again sought to lay down the principles that should govern their future relations with India. Simla Agreement envisaged steps to be taken for further normalization of bilateral relations. Most importantly, it bound the two countries “to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations”. In 1972, Bhutto several times, invited Indira Gandhi to visit Pakistan. Indira Gandhi insisted that, as the agreement required, all disputes should be settled bilaterally; but only to add that the Kashmir question was already settled. Pakistani foreign minister Sahibzada Yaqub Khan said on June 3, 1986, that neither country had proposed a discussion on Kashmir in pursuance of the pact. Pakistan’s first formal proposal for a meeting “to initiate negotiations on the settlement of Jammu and Kashmir in terms of Article 6 of the Simla Agreement” was made in a letter which prime minister Nawaz Sharif wrote on July 14, 1992 to prime minister Narsimha Rao after militancy had erupted in Kashmir. Simla was violated by India as it militarily occupied the Siachen Glacier in the early 1980’s. The “agreement” did not last.

In 1993, the US Assistant Secretary of State, Robin Raphel said: “It is a simple fact that the Simla Agreement has not been very effective up to this point … it’s fine to discuss the Kashmir dispute under the Simla accord, but it needs to happen and it hasn’t thus far. Therefore … it has not been very effective” — 20 years after it was concluded, an eloquent comment on its irrelevance to a solution.

The agreed text of the Agra Declaration of July 16, 2001, on which the Vajpayee government backed out, did not make even a ritual obeisance to the Simla pact either in the preamble or in the text proper. The pact was now history. The provisions on restoration of the status quo before the war were worked out. The rest fell by the wayside.

In the early hours of February 19, 2007, sixty-eight people, mostly Pakistani civilians were killed and scores more injured in a terrorist attack on Samjotha . India’s National Investigation Agency had concluded that Swami Aseemanand was the mastermind behind the blasts. Aseemanand’s confessional statement points towards involvement of government agencies and serving military officers in this incident. In a bid to cover-up the matter, investigation on this gory incident has been slowed down and all main culprits, including Swami Aseemanand, are on bail. Whenever Pakistan takes up this matter with India, instead of giving an explanation, India shows attitude and starts crying about Mumbai incident. Sole survivor out of the attackers of Mumbai incident, Ajmal Kasab, was hanged in an indecent haste that has hampered the ongoing investigations in to the Mumbai attacks.


Interestingly, one of the Indian home ministry official, had submitted an affidavit in Indian court stating that the Mumbai attack and an earlier attack on Indian parliament were false flag operations planned and conducted by the Indian intelligence agencies to garner support for enacting tougher anti-terror laws. Later, under duress, he withdrew the affidavit. According to Times of India, RVS Mani, who as home ministry under-secretary signed the affidavits submitted in court had said that Satish Verma, until recently a part of the Central Bureau of Investigation-SIT probe team, told him that both the 2001 attack on Indian parliament and the 2008 Mumbai attacks were set up “with the objective of strengthening the counter-terror legislation


In May 2014, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif again took initiative by attending inauguration ceremony of Narenders Modi as PM of India. Both sides agreed to resume Secretary level talks. Bilateral talks at the foreign secretary level between India and Pakistan were shelved following a rendezvous between the Pakistani high commissioner in India and the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference, a Kashmiri separatist group. The Indian government delivered a message of “its either us or them” to the Pakistani side and the high commissioner’s actions have effectively erased any positive momentum in the fragile bilateral relationship. Since then Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers have met in Ufa and Paris at the sidelines of climate change summit. Most recently Indian PM paid a surprise visit to Pakistan on 25th December on wedding ceremony of Pakistani PM grand daughter. This all was being interpreted as a positive step towards “Comprehensive Dialogue” but on 2nd January Indian extremist RSS stage managed an attack on Indian airbase near Pakistani border and again impeded the dialogue process which was scheduled to be held on 15th January this year.  The upcoming Indian trajectory is clear: no matter what Pakistan does to stem terrorism, Pakistan’s effort to end terrorism would have to meet Indian evaluation standards, and naturally it won’t. Hence, no dialogue. And to talk to India, Pakistan must forget about Hurryiat Conference leadership, Kashmir and water issues; also stop talking about bringing to book the perpetrators of bombing of Pakistani train Samjhauta express.


Preconditioning the dialogue with favourable environment to India is a non-starter. Dialogues are initiated to make the environment favourable. Apparently India has taken a decision to freeze dialogue with Pakistan for a decade or so—barring occasional photo-ops to divert international pressures. Pakistan should not go overboard in commencing dialogue with India, unless India rationalizes its overall approach toward Pakistan. Keeping in view the prevailing Indian mindset, Pakistan should watch out its tendency of hurling unilateral concessions to India.  It must be conveyed to India and international community that Pakistan is committed to a result-oriented, sustainable and meaningful dialogue with India to address all issues of mutual concern including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. India’s new trend of focusing on the issue of terrorism only is a dangerous strategy; it implies that India no longer wants to have a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan.


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