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#210, 23 June 1999
Kargil, LoC and the Simla Agreement
PR Chari
Director, IPCS

The intercepted telephonic conversation between General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff, Pakistan and his Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Mohd. Aziz, is disconcerting. It states in one place; " Hint, is that, given that the LoC has many areas where the interpretation of either side is not what the other side believes. So, comprehensive deliberation is required". The LoC (line of control) was created by the Simla Agreement (July 2, 1972) and replaced the cease-fire line established by the Karachi Agreement (1948). India sought this terminological change as part of its negotiating strategy in Simla. The intention was to deny the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) any future role by urging that the new line of control was distinct from the old cease-fire line which UNMOGIP was charged with monitoring.



Clause IV (ii) of the Simla Agreement states that:



In Jammu and Kashmir , the line of control resulting from the ceasefire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or use of force in violation of the line.



Pakistan has steadily eroded these provisions over the years. It has promoted militancy in Punjab and Kashmir , and it would require a willing suspension of disbelief to conclude that the " violation of the line" in Kargil has been effected by "freedom fighters". Anyway, Pakistan had now admitted to its regular troops being involved in the fighting.



Returning to the Simla Agreement the two Army Headquarters were given the responsibility for delineating the LoC as envisaged by it. Their representatives (Lt. Gen. P.S.Bhagat for India and Lt. Gen. Abdul Hamid Khan for Pakistan ) met on August 10, 1972. An agreement was quickly reached that it need only be re-demarcated in stretches where the old cease-fire line was disturbed following the hostilities, and to demarcate by recognizing the physical occupation of territory by both sides on the date when hostilities ended viz. 17 December 1971. Several problems the arose.



·                     First, India linked its withdrawal of forces from across the international border to delineation of the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir . This was unacceptable to Pakistan , which argued that the Simla Agreement had separate clauses governing these distinct segments of the Indo-Pak border. However, on India 's persistence, Pakistan finally conceded this demand.


·                     Second, identification of the LoC became problematical in places like the Lippa valley in Tithwal sector where some posts changed hands after the ceasefire came into force.


·                     Third, a breakdown of talks occurred on the Thako Chak issue. Pakistan captured this salient in the Jammu sector; a part lay across the international border and another across the ceasefire line. The Simla Agreement required this minor salient to be divided between India and Pakistan ; this seemed pointless to India , but became a matter of principle for Pakistan . Talks dragged on endlessly. Ultimately India resolved this problem by compensating Pakistan elsewhere along the line of control.




The line of control resulting from these negotiations was inscribed on 19 maps and verbally described. It was signed by military officials of the two countries, and formally exchanged on 11 December 1972. The decision not to exchange captured territory and revert to the status quo ante (as occurred under the Tashkent Agreement) had important military implications for both sides. India lost the Chamb area across the Munnawar Tawi river, which provides Pakistan with a formidable obstacle to defend it. India gained strategic territory across the ceasefire line in Kargil to defend its communications between Srinagar and Leh, which is the scene of Pakistan 's present aggression.



Both sides therefore accepted the LoC with its military advantages and disadvantages. The LoC's precise location is well recognized by usage. Sector commanders have resolved disputes regarding the LoC through flag meetings over the years. Pakistan 's Army Headquarters knows all this. Hence, its assertion that " the LoC has many areas where the interpretation of either side is not what the other side believes" reveals an easy propensity to verisimilitude that will make future negotiations with Pakistan very difficult. This specious logic could obviously apply to other segments of the LoC and convert it into a live and unstable border.



Pakistan 's disputation of the LoC really questions the Simla Agreement. By breaching its provisions Pakistan has exhibited aberrant international conduct. But the larger problem before India is that of dealing with a failing state, which possesses discrete nuclear capabilities, and has displayed a demonstrated capacity for dangerous misconduct. This should worry India and  also the world community.






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