The immediate outcome of the War of 1971 between India and Pakistan was the change of government in Pakistan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the majority party leader of West Pakistan assumed power on December 20, 1971. The War of 1971 resulted in the dismemberment of East Pakistan. Pakistan had lost almost 54% of its population and 93,000 of its soldiers and civilians were in Indian possession. Therefore, the new government’s initial challenges were to come out the state of emergency and resolve the matter of POW’s as soon as possible. India and Pakistan were in direct contact with each other through diplomatic channels after the War and both had realized the need to enter into the negotiations. From January 12, 1972 to April 30, 1972 both countries showed their inclination for dialogue through press statements and talks were opened at initial level. Finally, it was agreed that the talks between Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi would open on June 28, 1972.
The summit conference between Bhutto and Indra Gandhi opened in Simla on the decided time. The summit conference was held from June 28 to July 2, 1972. The agreement sought to lay down the envisaged steps to be taken for the normalization of bilateral relations and to settle mutual disputes through peaceful means and bilateral negotiations. India wanted to settle all the problems in one package, so it proposed a treaty of friendship pledging the two countries to abjure the use of force in setting disputes, to refrain from interference in each other’s personal internal affairs, to desist from seeking third-party intervention in the settlement of their differences and to renounce military alliances directed against each other. Pakistan wished to concentrate on such immediate issues as the release of POW’s, the disengagement of troops, and the resumption of diplomatic relations. It objected to the Indian proposal on the ground that it would involve permanent acceptance of the division of Kashmir and the withdrawal of Kashmir dispute from the United Nations.
On July 2, 1972 both countries reached an agreement. Main clauses of Simla Agreement are:
- Both countries would put an end to conflict and confrontation and would work for promotion of friendly relations and peace. They agreed to follow United Nations Charter to govern their relations and affirmed to respect each other’s national unity, political independence and territorial integrity.
- Both Governments agreed to avert hostile propaganda against each other.
- For the restoration of normal relations both the governments agreed to resume communications and promote travel facilities. Both agreed for cooperation in economic and cultural activities.
- Both agreed to respect the line of control between Jammu and Kashmir resulting from the ceasefire of December 17, 1971.
- The withdrawal of forces of both countries would come into effect within the 30 days of agreement’s enforcement.
Pakistan ratified the Simla Agreement was ratified on July 15, 1972 and India on August 3, same year therefore, it came into effect on August 4, 1972. Simla Agreement secured withdrawals of forces from territories occupied by both sides during war except for Kashmir. In the coming two years all the POW’s had returned home as well.