Shimla Disagreement: ‘When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi disagreed to agree’

NewsBharati    26-Jun-2024 10:21:21 AM   
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‘If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience’ - George Bernard Shaw

Let us delve deep into our history and see what it failed to teach us.

Prithviraj Chauhan was the epitome of braveness and stupidity as well. Defeating, Ghauri 16 times was his braveness and letting him go every time was stupidity. Because every time Ghauri attacked, 1000's or more people lost their lives in battlefield. Eventually Ghauri won one time and beheaded him.

Our scriptures cry the same loud and clear. Yet we fool ourselves again and again!

Even in Mahabharat, it is mentioned, do not let your enemy go away anytime you defeat them. Because when you do that, you indirectly motivate them to avenge their disrespect more violently and vehemently.

We the nation have now woken up to the reality and are not ready to ‘pussy footing’ anymore with our sworn enemies.

We won a war with Pakistan in 1971 on the battlefield where we lost 4000 soldiers and had close to 10,000 injured- many severely- but we lost it on the negotiating table big time. Could we have done better? The, jury is still out.

The disagreement we agreed to

Some said ‘A lost opportunity in 1971: where Indira Gandhi erred; she failed to convert India’s victory in the 1971 war into a durable peace with Pakistan’.

I feel a negotiation table is like an operation table- a surgeon needs to do what he has to do!

As late Tariq Fateh said in one of his TV debates “with such a massive victory India could have defanged Pakistan completely. It could have made them pay by asking them to return POJK, and demilitarized Pakistan like Allies did to Germany after WW2.”

This seemed far fetched but we should have got our pound of flesh whatever it means.

We won a two-week-long war on Eastern and western front with a massive victory in December 1971 occupying large chunks of Enemy land and making 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrender to our brave army. But in 1972 at Shimla, India chose to bet on an optimistic outlook on Pakistan. At the end of the day, it resulted in both a revanchist, revengeful Pakistan and a continuing problem in Jammu & Kashmir till date.

The Shimla Agreement was signed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972 seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war. It was a comprehensive blueprint for good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan. Looking back, one would say ‘my foot’. We learnt nothing from history. The worst is that not a single person from Indian military was present for this historic event.

Indira Gandhi gave away 13,000 square Km of conquered land in the western front and also returned 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war! Many still wonder at the naivety with which the negotiations were carried out and the reason behind the same.

Negotiation is a mind game. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi kept the interest of Bangladesh as paramount. She succumbed probably to the pressure of ensuring the release of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman as also the Bengalis stuck in Pakistan. By so doing, she erred in visualising the larger strategic picture that would have been of benefit to India.

In a way it was one life traded for 93000!

At that time the Congress government under Indira Gandhi was more concerned about Bengalis stuck in Pakistan- thinking they would be persecuted by Pakistanis. Now when the present Government under BJP brought CAA, Citizenship Amendment Act to get minorities like Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and other non-Muslims back to India, Congress opposed it tooth and nail!

Faux pas of the highest order!

Not only this, we left more than fifty of our POWs languishing in Pakistani jails. There were several Indian POWs in Pakistan, too; many of them were returned to India, but 54 of them never made that journey back to their country. Several of these missing men were pilots who were captured after their aircraft were shot down and they bailed out.
The “Missing 54.” they have been called over the years. There is ample evidence to believe that they survived the war. A photograph of Major A K Ghosh was published in ‘Time’ magazine on December 27, 1971.

A case in point was Ft. Lt. V V Tambay who was captured alive on December 5, 1971. This fact was acknowledged in Pakistani newspapers and radio. However, he was not repatriated after the war ended. What did we do? And why?
Now the difference in stance is clear for one officer, Wing commander Abhinandan, the entire government machinery got geared up at the highest level to get him back in a short span of time.
“A negotiator should observe everything. You must be part Sherlock Holmes, part Sigmund Freud.” ~ Victor Kiam

We recently got eight Naval officers from Quatar who were on death row.

Pakistanis were much more smart

Bhutto played his cards well. He knew he could trade the life of 93000 for one and agreed to release Mujibur Rehman who was in Pakistan prison and was given a death sentence for treason. In a diplomatic coup of sorts, he tricked Indira Gandhi who people thought was shrewd and iron willed! He showed that he was being generous by overturning the army courts verdict of death sentence to him- (only to settle the final score later as you will see). Gandhi agreed to this indecent proposal and was tricked into this lopsided exchange.

Demonstrating a spirit of genuine gratefulness for sparing the life of Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh’s father of the nation, eight months after he was set free, India ordered the release of all 93,000 Pakistani POWs under the Shimla Agreement of August 2, 1972. The world had never known such decency in international relations as India’s conduct with Pakistan on the POW issue! Was it decency or foolishness? Bhutto, must have gone back laughing all the way to Pakistan.

It seems to be clear that ISI (army) and Bhutto must have been on the same page and decided that let us get our guys back we will sort out Rehman Sahab later- which they did.

They did it by proxy through senior army officers of Bangladesh Army (who had been trained at Military Academy at Abbottabad)-seems blood is thicker than water. Three years and eight months later Mujibur Rahman and his family were brutally butchered settling their unfinished agenda. They wanted to kill the traitor who broke Pakistan into two. It was 15th August-1975 when this was done, simultaneously as if by design to deliver independence, day gift to Indira Gandhi for her flawed judgement- Such are their brutal ways all along. Sparing his life earlier was just a ruse.

They settled the score nice and proper ,without remorse and we talk of Ganga Jamuna tehzib or worst ‘Bhai Chara’.
Internally, the Pakistani army conducted an inquiry – a fake manufactured one-and pointed out certain flaws in operations but buried the report for their own sake- not giving any ammo to Bhutto to use against the army.

They took back the reins of power in a coup by Bhutto’s chosen army chief Gen Ziaul Haq in July 1977. Pakistan was changed forever and left us twiddling our thumbs! In 1979 April Bhutto was hanged, even at that time Opposition leader Indira Gandhi issued a statement “condemning the hanging” and said Bhutto had become a victim of a conspiracy. Can you believe this?

DNA of a snake can never change

Pakistan has always been a green snake in green grass a slithering one at that.

Justice Abu Sayyad Choudury who later became president of Bangladesh had tried to forewarn Ms Gandhi through a letter, not to trust Pakistan. His pungent and perfect remark was ‘When you chop off the tail of a Cobra, its head becomes ten times more venomous!’ And he was absolutely right.

“Certain basics about human nature do not change. Man needs a certain moral sense of right and wrong. There is such a thing called evil, and it is not the result of being a victim of society. You are just an evil man, prone to do evil things, and you have to be stopped from doing them.” ― Henry Kissinger, Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy

This has been the nature of your enemy since thousands of years and we have been so silly if not stupid.
“Pussyfooting is a vice I have been concerned to avoid.” ― Larry McMurtry, In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas

Thank God our new leadership has understood this

The Modi administration is very clear-headed- for him and his team national interest is first and they are not there to get accolades from anyone.

No more pussy footing now and messaging is loud and clear at the highest level.
‘Indians will never forget the gruesome act of killing 18 soldiers in Uri.’

PM Modi

PM Narendra Modi also said in no uncertain terms to Pakistan, ‘India has been successful in isolating you, globally and we will intensify our efforts to make sure that you are isolated globally.’

Our foreign policy now is based on ‘nation first’

External affairs Minister Jaishankar said, "A misreading of geopolitics and economics up to 1991 stands out in contrast to the reformist policies thereafter. Two decades of nuclear indecision ended dramatically with the tests of 1998. The lack of response to 26/11 is so different from the Uri and Balakot operations. Whether it is events or trends, they all bear scrutiny for the lessons they hold.”

He also said: “India’s record includes dark moments like the 1962 defeat against China. Or tense ones like the 1965 war with Pakistan where the outcome hung in balance till the very end. And the more triumphal ones such as the 1971 victory which created Bangladesh. There are enough dichotomies in our past to generate a spirited debate on successes and failures.”

He also said that foreign media does not write his report card.

Nor is he bothered it seems.

Snakes do fall sick

Pakistan occupied Kashmir was an unfinished agenda left for us to sort out eventually. You show a white flag to cease fire only when you are losing a war not when you are winning it! Nehru did exactly that- stopped our army which would have finished the task once for all. We were winning!

Pakistan kept occupying a part of Kashmir which was ours. Nehru thus left a wounded snake on our border which is the main bone of contention. Now that snake is uncomfortable as the people of POJK see India progressing economically and Pakistan in a downward spiral-where even food is not available and hence a belly ache. People are fighting the government tooth and nail. As if the snake has been infected by a parasite.

Let me draw a parallel.

Cryptosporidiosis is a protozoal parasite that can infect snakes. It causes thickening of the stomach muscles, which appears as a round, mid-body swelling, as well as impaired digestion, vomiting, and weight loss. Some snakes are infected but show no signs and shed this contagious parasite in their stool, exposing other susceptible snakes to infection- rest of Pakistan, to start with Balochistan. Helminths (worm-type parasites) and motile protozoa can cause poor digestion and weight loss. Most Pakistanis are on a weight loss diet as there is little to eat. A Roti is costing Rs 20/-!

External parasites such as Ophionyssus mites can carry disease-causing bacteria or viruses. Both mites and ticks suck blood from a snake and, if present in high enough numbers, can cause severe anemia. Entire Pakistan is soon to become a sick snake.

This is what is happening to POJK. We may not have to do much as people of Pakistan will act like a parasite and kill that snake for us.

Let it die on its own.

“The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts.” ~ Howard Baker

Virender Kapoor

A thinker, educationist and an inspirational guru. Kapoor is an Indian who wears many hats. An educationist of repute, he was the Director of a prestigious management Institute under the Symbiosis umbrella. He has emerged as a leading think tank in human behavior, motivation and success. As a celebrity author, his name appears with the likes of Thomas Friedman and Dale Carnegie. He has authored more than 30 books as of now which are on Amazon worldwide and several of his books are in the pipeline.