The Simla agreement and the Geneva Accord

26 Oct 2016

The roots of contemporary problems are buried deep

The rift between Pakistan and India has increased to a significant degree. A few elements on both sides have played a crucial role in aggravating the situation. These elements are present amongst mass media, political parties and various governmental and non- governmental institutions, on both sides of the LOC. Besides, some foreign elements also have contributed to the dire situation as well. On either side, people belonging to certain, say, schools of thought are deriving out their own economic gains from the tense situation. For these groups, the heightened tensions between the neighbors are an opportune moment to justify their existence and consequently secure more funding. Nevertheless, sanity has to prevail, and current state animosity between the two nuclear neigbours needs to subside.

If we look back at the history retrospectively, almost all the major disputes have been solved through agreements. Whoever opted for them, steered clear of the chaos that war brings unlike those who preferred to choose the latter.

In the history of Islam, the Hudaibia agreement is one such example. The agreement took place between the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Sohail Bin Umer Safir in the year 628 AD. According to the agreement, the idea of war was to be put on hold for the next ten years. Anyone who wanted to side with Prophet Muhammad SAW would be free to do so. Likewise, anyone who wanted to side with either Makkah or Madinah or make agreements with them would be free to do so as well. If someone from Makkah went to Prophet Muhammad SAW without the permission of their supervisor, they would be returned while if the opposite happened, the Makkans would not return him. Prophet Muhammad wasn’t allowed to enter Makkah that year. He could only enter in the following year, along with his companions, that too without any arms. Although, it seemed like a one-sided agreement and it indeed was but Muslims kept it throughout nonetheless for the sake of peace. The agreement, ultimately, became the reason Muslims were triumphant at the end with regards to Makkah. Similarly, the history of Pakistan has witnessed two agreements as well.

The Simla agreement was made with India while the Geneva agreement with Afghanistan. The former took place at Simla, a beautiful place in Himachal Pardesh. The agreement emphasised the importance of stability and peace. The agreement stated that the two countries would solve their issues through peaceful talks and respect each other’s sovereignty and political freedom. Propaganda and unjust use of power would be avoided while the LOC would be kept skirmish free.

However, years after the landmark agreement, the two countries continue to butt heads.

Pakistan blames India for interfering in Pakistan and vice versa. While Kulbhushan Yadav is arrested from Pakistan, India blames Ajmal Kasab for the Mumbai attacks and associates him with Pakistan. Both the developing countries need to focus on eradicating poverty and providing food to their public first. At this side of the border, the forces are busy in fighting terrorism and now the whole India-Pakistan war situation has aggravated the problem greatly. Alleged cross border intervention is a clear violation of the Simla agreement. In order to counter this, a third party commission should be constituted, so that it can assess the situation in an unbiased way. This should mainly be done in order to normalise the relations between the two countries so as to resolve the Kashmir issue peacefully. . On the other hand, the situation on Pakistan’s Afghan border is worrying. If we analyse it objectively, at the root of this all lies the breach of another agreement – the Pak-Afghan Geneva Accord.

On April 14, 1988, an agreement was made between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Geneva. The agreement was put forth by the then Prime Minister Junejo while Zia-ul-Haq did not seem happy about it. The agreement stated that the two countries would refrain from interfering in each other’s internal matters. According to one analytical suggestion, the reason Junejo was dismissed is because Zia-ul-Haq and some other religious leaders were aggrieved at the fact that militants or more commonly known as Jihadis were not given any place in the agreement. According to the rationale given by the proponents of the agreement, the agreements are made between the governments and not some illegitimate militant outfits. Unfortunately, the agreement wasn’t upheld in true letter and spirit. The rise of the Taliban in 90s, the role of Osama Bin Ladin, the existence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, 9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan by USA and its allies – all of these bear testimony to the breach of the Geneva Accord.  It is the need of the hour that the two countries re-vitalise this agreement. Pakistan, India and Afghanistan need to understand that peace is the only way out of these chaotic times. They should work on adopting the policy of non-interference so that peace and prosperity can be achieved in the region.

Published in “Pakistan Today” on 26 October 2016.

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