“Peace is not made at the council tables or by treaties but in the hearts of men”
—Herbert Hoover, Ex President of USA—
There is much euphoria in India over the recent ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan. There is a viewpoint that there was a change of heart in the Pakistan military. It advocates that General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his Army’s stance might have been mellowed down towards India. Thus, the symphony of peace and harmony is getting louder.
Is it really genuine or a plagiarised version of 2004-07 illusion of peace? Everyone knows that Atal Bihari Vajpayee and General Pervez Mushareff initiative of peace in 2004-07, had been reversed by Gen. Pervez Ashfaque Kiani, who took over as Pakistan Army Chief from Pervez Mushareff in 2008.
Earlier, the Lahore Peace Bus of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in February 1999, had turned turtle on the Kargil heights. Do not forget the unofficial Lahore visit, in December 2015, by Indian PM Narendra Modi to attend and bless the marriage of the grand daughter of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s then head of state. It was to break the ice. But within days of this, India’s Pathankot Airbase had to face the Fedayeen terrorist attack.
Also Read: Special Effort Needed in Pakistan to Make Truce Work
Also Read: Ceasefire & Indo-Pak Relations - Overcome the Past to Give Substance to the Future
What about the Shimla Agreement of July 1972? It is believed that there was a secret but unwritten clause which mandated India and Pakistan to accept the LOC as the International Border. It is said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then PM of Pakistan, had said to Indian PM Indra Gandhi, “Trust me Sister”. This had mollified Indra Gandhi and she had agreed to release 93,000 Pakistani Prisoners of war.
It was due to this secret clause that India had allowed Pakistan in 1974, to delink Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and bring it directly under the Federal Government of Pakistan as Federally controlled Northern Areas. India made no noise and did not protest. Today, the Government of Imran Khan in Pakistan is even contemplating to make it the fifth province of Pakistan. India has strongly objected to such a move.
“If you add sugar to poison, it does not make a sweet dish. Should you consume you will die. Similarly Pakistan was pure poison for India. Talks will not make it a sweet dish and it would only damage India.”
The Shimla agreement had also visualised that India and Pakistan would resolve all disputes bilaterally. This meant that all United Nations resolutions before this agreement had become redundant. No third party was allowed to intervene. But Pakistan continues to harp about UN resolutions and Plebiscite. Interestingly, it was Pakistan who had refused to accept the UN resolution of 13 August 1948, which had three clauses.
The first clause had asked Pakistan to pull out all its forces from Kashmir and India to keep a minimum force to conduct a plebiscite. Since Pakistan did not pull out, the said UN resolution had become inoperative and the Shimla Agreement drove final nails in its coffin.
Not only the Shimla Agreement but all other such pacts and treaties with Pakistan remain unhonoured by Pakistan. Most of them are discarded, distorted and misinterpreted even before the ink on the papers could dry. Whether UN resolutions or bilateral pacts such as Liaquat-Nehru Pact of 1951 or even Lahore Treaty of 1999, they all have been archived into the dustbin of history by Pakistan. It is no doubt that Pakistan had used these treaties, pacts and agreements as a marriage of convenience to suit a particular agenda and nothing more.
The question then arises that can Pakistan be trusted to honour this ceasefire agreement now? Well! I am reminded of a friend, Kalmuddin, from North Kashmir. He had motivated and inspired me in the wake of the Kargil conflict in 1999 to write the book, titled, Kashmir - A Different Perspective. It was published by Turning Point India in March 2017. He had made an interesting observation on Indo-Pak relations.
It so happened that one day in July, during the Kargil conflict, I was conversing with him on the need for talks between India and Pakistan. He flared up and said, in Punjabi. “If you add sugar to poison, it does not make a sweet dish. Should you consume you will die. Similarly Pakistan was pure poison for India. Talks will not make it a sweet dish and it would only damage India.” Therefore India’s experience with Pakistan shows that it can not be trusted.
The current facade of ceasefire on the LOC is only a tactical withdrawal to get out of the financial mess it has got in. In January 2021, its external debt rose to $113.8 billion which has risen from $37.2 billion in the year 2006. This debt is 40.1% of its total Gross Domestic Product ($284billion). It had to borrow from China to repay its loan to Saudi Arabia. It is also rumoured that besides Gwadar port earlier, it has now leased Skardu airport in GB to the People's Liberation Army air force for $6 billion. It is in heavy debt to China.
Continuous daily firing across the border not only causes heavy human caustics and damage properties but it also is becoming a heavy burden on the national economy. It is already on the Financial Action Task Force Grey list and it can not get loans easily from international financial institutions, like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
It therefore needs a breathing space in defence expenditure. This is why it has opted for temporary peace with India. It is not a change of mind or end of hostilities with India but a tactical withdrawal to resume its planned hostility later. It has not abandoned the path of exporting terrorism into India. Those who think Pakistan would follow a path of peace are sadly mistaken.
As long as the Pakistan Army calls the shots in Pakistan, it can always and anytime do a volts face on any agreement. India must move with caution. As my friend Kalmuddin had observed, Pakistan was a pure poison for India, and remains so forever. India can trust it only at peril to its own sovereignty and integrity.
Be warned before you are lulled into sleep by version-2.0 of Kartarpur type mischievous corridor. It could as well be a mind game. There are many slips between the cup and the lip.
About the Author
Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War and has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a defence and national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected])
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')
For more defence related content, follow us on Twitter: @MVictoryIndia and Facebook: @MissionVictoryIndia