A no-war deal

The Pak Banker - - EDITORIAL - A.g. Noorani

THERE is a time for any in­ter­na­tional treaty to be con­cluded. Judg­ing by some re­cent com­ments, the time has come for Pak­istan and In­dia to con­clude a no-war pact. Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif ad­vo­cated it on the floor of the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly as far back as in 1997. Ad­dress­ing the same fo­rum on Sept 30, 2015, he pro­posed re­straint by both coun­tries from "use or the threat of use of force un­der any cir­cum­stances".

The record is in­struc­tive and bears re­call­ing. It all be­gan with a sug­ges­tion by Girja Shankar Ba­j­pai, who was the sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Affairs, in a con­ver­sa­tion with M. Is­mail, the then Pak­istani high com­mis­sioner in New Delhi, to­wards the end of Novem­ber 1949 that a joint no-war dec­la­ra­tion should be made by the two coun­tries. Pak­istan re­sponded on Dec 3, with an aide-mem­oire that listed all the pend­ing dis­putes be­tween the two and sug­gested their ref­er­ence to ar­bi­tra­tion. As soon as an agree­ment would be reached, a joint dec­la­ra­tion would be made that the two gov­ern­ments would in no case re­sort to wag­ing war.

On Dec 22, Jawa­har­lal Nehru handed over to Is­mail the draft of a brief joint dec­la­ra­tion. On Sept 26, 1950, Pak­istani prime min­is­ter Li­aquat Ali Khan put for­ward his pro­posal which in­cor­po­rated Nehru's draft al­most ver­ba­tim but added an un­der­tak­ing to "re­sort to ar­bi­tra­tion of all points of dif­fer­ence" in their dis­putes.

On Sept 15, 1981, Pak­istan is­sued a state­ment. Its last para­graph read: "On our part we are pre­pared to en­ter into im­me­di­ate con­sul­ta­tions with In­dia for the pur­pose of ex­chang­ing mu­tual guar­an­tees of non-ag­gres­sion and non-use of force in the spirit of the Shimla agree­ment." In the cor­re­spon­dence which fol­lowed drafts were ex­changed. In­dia sent an aide-mem­oire to Pak­istan on Dec 24, 1981, spell­ing out the el­e­ments. They in­cluded the Simla Pact and that "Both coun­tries re­it­er­ate their firm com­mit­ment to the pol­icy of non-align­ment, the essence of which is non-in­volve­ment in great power con­fronta­tion." Given Pak­istan's re­la­tion­ship with the United States, es­pe­cially af­ter the Soviet in­va­sion of Afghanistan, this in­jected a new and con­tro­ver­sial el­e­ment.

Pak­istan re­sponded with an aide-mem­oire in Jan­uary 1982 which in­cluded the Five Prin­ci­ples of Peace­ful Co­ex­is­tence, ex­plicit re­nun­ci­a­tion of war or "use of force or threat to use of force in any form what­ever". The two drafts were pre-em­i­nently sus­cep­ti­ble to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Pak­istan pre­sented the draft of a brief no-war pact in May 1982. In­dia gave Pak­istan its draft of an agree­ment on a joint com­mis­sion on June 28 and fol­lowed up by pre­sent­ing its draft of a treaty of peace, friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion when for­eign sec­re­tary M.K. Ras­go­tra went to Is­lam­abad in Au­gust 1982. It in­jected two con­tro­ver­sial for­mu­la­tions on grant of bases to and al­liances with a ' Great Power' (read: the US). It read: "The two gov­ern­ments re­it­er­ate their firm com­mit­ment to the pol­icy of non-align­ment and of their obli­ga­tions as mem­bers of the Non-Aligned Move­ment which as­serts non-in­volve­ment in Great Power con­fronta­tion and their mil­i­tary al­liances or blocs in any form.

"The two gov­ern­ments mu­tu­ally un­der­take not to give to any Great Power or to an­other state, whether or not in mil­i­tary al­liance with them, any use of their ter­ri­tory or ar­eas within their ju­ris­dic­tion as a mil­i­tary base or for any other fa­cil­i­ties of a sim­i­lar char­ac­ter in what­ever form, and par­tic­u­larly those which ad­versely af­fect the se­cu­rity in­ter­ests of the other party." The for­eign sec­re­taries of both coun­tries met in De­cem­ber 1982 to rec­on­cile the ri­val drafts. An­other new el­e­ment was qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the obli­ga­tion to re­solve dis­putes bi­lat­er­ally with the word 'ex­clu­sively' which had been dropped in Shimla in June 1982.

At Mur­ree in May 1984 a break­through was in sight. It proved to be a mi­rage. The Zia-Ra­jiv sum­mit in New Delhi in De­cem­ber 1985 im­parted some mo­men­tum. On bi­lat­er­al­ism, Pak­istan pro­posed the Shimla foun­da­tion. On bases it pro­posed that "the two coun­tries re­it­er­ate their com­mit­ment to the pol­icy of non­align­ment which as­serts in­de­pen­dence of for­eign pol­icy, co­ex­is­tence be­tween var­i­ous political sys­tems, [and] non-in­volve­ment in mul­ti­lat­eral al­liances in the con­text of Great Power con­flicts. The two coun­tries mu­tu­ally agree that nei­ther shall per­mit the use of its ter­ri­tory for ag­gres­sion, hos­tile and sub­ver­sive ac­tiv­i­ties for the pur­pose of un­der­min­ing each other's se­cu­rity, political in­de­pen­dence, ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and political or­der."In 2016 the quib­bles on bi­lat­er­al­ism, al­liances and bases have lost rel­e­vance. Nei­ther nu­clear state in­tends to go to war with the other on Kash­mir or any other coun­try.

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