|Context||Indo-Pakistani War of 1965|
|Signed||10 January 1966|
|Location||Tashkent, Soviet Union|
|Signatories||Lal Bahadur Shastri|
(Prime Minister of India)
Muhammad Ayub Khan
(President of Pakistan)
The Tashkent Declaration was a peace agreement between India and Pakistan signed on 10 January 1966 that resolved the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Peace had been achieved on 23 September by the intervention of the external powers who pushed the two nations to cease fire, afraid the conflict could escalate and draw in other powers.
The war between India and Pakistan in 1965 was an escalation of the small scale and irregular fighting from April 1965 to September 1965 between both countries. It was over control of the resources and population of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, a sore point between both countries ever since Partition in 1947.
The Tashkent conference, under United Nations, American and Soviet pressure, compelled India and Pakistan to abide by their previous treaty obligations and accept Status quo ante bellum – to give away the captured regions of each other and return to the 1949 ceasefire line in Kashmir.
The conference was viewed as a great success and the declaration that was released was hoped to be a framework for lasting peace. The declaration stated that Indian and Pakistani forces would pull back to their pre-conflict positions, pre-August lines, no later than 25 February 1966, the nations would not interfere in each other's internal affairs, economic and diplomatic relations would be restored, there would be an orderly transfer of prisoners of war, and the two leaders would work towards improving bilateral relations.
The agreement was criticized in India because it did not contain a no-war pact or any renunciation of guerrilla warfare in Kashmir. After signing the agreement, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri died mysteriously in Tashkent. Shastri's sudden death has led to persistent conspiracy theories that he was poisoned. The Indian government has refused to declassify a report on his death claiming that this could harm foreign relations, cause disruption in the country and cause a breach of parliamentary privileges.
In accordance with the Tashkent Declaration, talks at the ministerial level were held on 1 and 2 March 1966. Despite the fact that these talks were unproductive, diplomatic exchange continued throughout the spring and summer. No result was achieved out of these talks, as there was a difference of opinion over the Kashmir issue. Euphoria had built up during the 1965 war, which had led to the development of a public perception in Pakistan that they were going to win the war. News of the Tashkent Declaration shocked the people of Pakistan who were expecting something different. Things further worsened as Ayub Khan refused to comment and went into seclusion instead of announcing the reasons for signing the agreement. Demonstrations and rioting erupted at various places throughout Pakistan. In order to dispel the anger and misgivings of the people, Ayub Khan decided to lay the matter before the people by addressing the nation on 14 January, 1966. It was the difference over Tashkent Declaration, which eventually led to the removal of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from Ayub’s government, who later on launched his own party, called the Pakistan People’s Party. Although Ayub Khan was able to satisfy the misgivings of the people, the Tashkent Declaration greatly damaged his image and was one of the factors that led to his downfall.
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