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KUTCH CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT: 1965

With British mediation, the Indo-Pakistan ceasefire agreement on Kutch is arrived on June 30, 1965 enforcing the ceasefire and withdrawal of troops from Rann of Kutch

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Little before 12.30 p.m. on June 30th, 1965 the Pakistan High Commissioner, Arshad Hussain, and his deputy drove to the South Block where the External Affairs Ministry is housed. The British High Commissioner, John Freeman, and his Deputy D.A. Scott were also present. The agreement was signed by Azim Hussain Secretary (II) in the External Affairs Ministry and Arshad Hussain. Both are first cousins as well as brothers-in-law. Formal speeches were very brief. Pakistan and India formally thanked Britain for its mediation.

The ceasefire came into force on the morning of July 1st, 1965. The withdrawal of troops from the Rann was completed on 8th July.

The following is the text of the Agreement :

Whereas both the Governments of India and Pakistan have agreed to a ceasefire and to restoration of the status quo as on January 1st, 1965 in the area of the Gujarat-West Pakistan border, in the confidence that this will also contribute to a reduction of the present tension along the entire Indo-Pakistan border.

Whereas it is necessary that after the status quo has been established in the aforesaid Gujarat-West Pakistan border area, arrangements should be made for determination and demarcation of the border in that area.

Now, therefore, the two Governments agree that the following action shall be taken in regard to the said area:

Article – 1

There shall be an immediate ceasefire with effect from 0630 hrs GMT July 1st, 1965.

Article – 2

On the ceasefire:

(i)                  All troops on both sides will immediately begin to withdraw;

(ii)                This process will be completed within seven days;

(iii)               Indian police may then re-occupy the post at Chhad Bet in strength not greater than that employed at the post on December 31st, 1964;

(iv)              Indian and Pakistan police may patrol on the tracks on which they were patrolling prior to January 1st, 1965 provided that their patrolling will not exceed in intensity that which they were doing prior to January 1st, 1965 and during the Monsoon period will not exceed in intensity that done during the Monsoon period of 1964;

(v)                If patrols of Indian and Pakistan police should come into contact they will not interfere with each other, and in particular will act in accordance with West Pakistan-India border ground rules agreed to in January, 1960;

(vi)              Officials of the two Governments will meet immediately after the ceasefire and from time to time thereafter as may prove desirable in order to consider whether any problems arise in the implementation of the provisions of paragraphs (iii) to (v) above and to agree on the settlement of any such problem.

Article – 3

(1)          In view of the fact that:

(A)         India claims that there is no territorial dispute as there is a well-established boundary running roughly along the northern edge of the Rann of Kutch as shown in the pre-partition maps, which needs to be demarcated on the ground.

(B)         Pakistan claims that the border between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch runs roughly along the 24th parallel as is clear from several pre-partition and post-partition documents and therefore the dispute involves some 3,500 square miles of territory.

(C)         At discussions in January, 1960, it was agreed by Ministers of the two Governments that they each collect further data, regarding the Kutch-Sind boundary and that further discussions would be held later with a view to arriving at a settlement of this dispute.

(i)               As soon as officials have finished the task referred to in Article 2 (vi), which in any case will not be later than one month after the ceasefire, Ministers of the two Governments will meet in order to agree on the determination of the border in the light of their respective claims and the arrangements for its demarcation. At this meeting and at any preceding before the Tribunal referred to in Article 3 (ii) and (iv) below, each Government will be free to present and develop its case in full.

(ii)              In the event of no agreement between the Ministers of the two Governments on the determination of the border being reached within two months of the cease-fire the two Governments shall, as contemplated in the joint communiqué of October 24th, 1959, have recourse to the Tribunal referred to in (iii) below for determination of the border in the light of their respective claims and evidence produced before it and the decision of the Tribunal shall be final and binding on both parties.

(iii)            For this purpose there will be constituted, within four months of the cease-fire, a Tribunal consisting of three persons, none of whom would be a national of either India or Pakistan. One member shall be nominated by each Government and the third member, who will be the Chairman shall be jointly selected by the two Governments. In the event of the two Governments failing to agree on the selection of the Chairman within three months of the cease-fire they shall request the Secretary-General of the United Nations to nominate the Chairman.

(iv)            The decision of the Tribunal referred to in (iii) above shall be binding on both Governments, and shall not be questioned on any ground whatsoever. Both Governments, undertake to implement the findings of the Tribunal in full as I quickly as possible and shall refer to the Tribunal for decision any difficulties which may arise between them in the implementation of these findings. For that purpose the Tribunal shall remain in being until its findings have been implemented in full.

Agreement as seen in Pakistan

Immediately after the agreement was signed, Pakistan raised a political controversy by suggesting that India had accepted for the first time the principle of international arbitration for settlement of border disputes and that the Kutch Agreement set the precedent and pattern for it.

Such a statement was totally unwarranted. India made no such commitment. The word ‘arbitration’ did not occur in the text, although Pakistan fought hard for it during the negotiations. India was firmly opposed to the use of this term because being a non-aligned country she was bound to lose her case in the international bodies. She wanted to ensure that the tribunal should function as a judicial body and should go into facts, documents, evidence and law that each side could cite before it in support of its claim. Only from such a body some justice could be expected.

Through its foreign missions Pakistan made ceaseless efforts to sell this propaganda line to all foreign countries. Evidently, it achieved a fair measure of success in this object. This impelled the Government of India to instruct Indian missions abroad to “effectively rebut” Pakistani propaganda. It strongly contradicted the idea that the Kutch ceasefire agreement had set a precedent for the arbitration of all Indo-Pakistan disputes including Kashmir.

President Ayub Khan

Extract from the statement issued by President Ayub Khan 30th June 1965:

I am happy at the successful conclusion of the negotiations for a ceasefire in the Rann of Kutch and for arrangements for settling the dispute concerning that territory.

An agreement to this effect has been signed today. Simultaneously, the Indian Prime Minister and I have also agreed to arrange for orders to be issued forthwith to our respective troops to withdraw from the entire India-Pakistan border. This  bring to an end the present confrontation of the Armed Forces of the two countries.

This second agreement is, in some respect, even more important than the agreement on the Rann of Kutch dispute. Never before have India and Pakistan been closer to war than during recent weeks, when the armies of both countries have stood in menacing confrontation along the entire India-Pakistan border.

Never, therefore, has there been a greater need for a cool, calm and realistic approach to the India-Pakistan relationship. Fortunately, wiser counsels have prevailed and the sub-Continent has been spared the horrors of war.

The two agreements, one relating to the settlement of the Kutch dispute and the other to disengagement of the Indian and Pakistan armies, constitute an act of high statesmanship. They clearly demonstrate that India and Pakistan can and should resolve their disputes through peaceful means. I hope they will constitute a turning point in India-Pakistan relations.

According to the agreement concerning the Rann of Kutch a ceasefire in that territory will take effect at 5.30 am on July first. The Armed Forces of both India and Pakistan will completely withdraw from the disputed territory within one week.

The agreement for a ceasefire in the Rann of Kutch provides also for the settlement of the dispute concerning that territory. This dispute will be considered at an India-Pakistan Ministerial meeting. But, failing agreement within two months of the ceasefire, it shall be referred to arbitration by a tribunal consisting of three independent persons.

The provisions of the agreement concerning this tribunal and implementation of its decision are self-operating and precise, so that neither side can delay or frustrate a settlement of this dispute. The agreement provides that the tribunal must be constituted within four months of the ceasefire.

It further provides that the decision of the tribunal shall be binding on both Governments and that the tribunal shall remain in being to settle any difficulties that may arise in the implementation of its decisions.

It would be wrong to present this agreement as a victory for Pakistan or India. It is a victory for commonsense. It constitutes a model for the manner in which all India-Pakistan disputes can be settled, should other peaceful means of settling them prove unavailing.

 

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