Section 9. Situation in the Indian Subcontinent


The situation in the Indian subcontinent in 1972 revolved around moves over the handling of problems consequent to the Indo-Pakistani war at the end of 1971. In the course of the year, the new balance of power that emerged in the Indian subcontinent after the Indo-Pakistani war generally headed for stabilization through the Indo-Pakistani summit talks in Simla and also because Bangladesh secured its position in the international community. On the other hand, the economic situation in all countries in the Indian subcontinent deteriorated conspicuously.


1. Postwar problems


(1) Nature of postwar problems

The Indo-Pakistani war (which ended on December 17,1971) over the independence of Bangladesh left for the countries concerned such postwar problems !18 (i) the withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani forces, (ii) the repatriation of prisoners of war, (iii) the normalization of Indo-Pakistani relations and (iv) the recognition of Bangladesh by Pakistan. These four problems were closely interrelated, but there was no great progress in the past year toward the settlement of these problems, except for the problem of withdrawing Indian and Pakistan forces.

(2) Conclusion of the Simla Agreement

The Indo-Pakistani summit talks held at the end of June 1972 to break the deadlock in the settlement of these postwar problems and the subsequent conclusion of the so-called Simla Agreement (July 3, 1972) nevertheless gave direction to the adjustment of their relations. In the Simla Agreement, the two countries agreed on (i) a peaceful settlement of the conflict through bilateral negotiations, (ii) measures to gradually normalize their bilateral relations, such as the resumption of communication and transportation services and trade and (iii) the withdrawal of troops of both countries. On the other hand, the problem of repatriating prisoners of war and the Kashmir problem, which has been pending between the two countries for many years, were left to future negotiations.

Then, after difficult negotiations to determine a line of demarcation in Kashmir, the two countries completed the mutual withdrawal of their troops on December 20, 1972. As for the problem of repatriating prisoners of war (about 90,000 Pakistani soldiers, Government officials and their families who were captured on the eastern front) was left unsettled as a major pending issue among India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, although the mutual repatriation of Indian and Pakistani prisoners of war captured on the western front was realized. Hardly any progress was made in measures to normalize relations between India and Pakistan.


2. Bangladesh's international position


In the past year, India provided Bangladesh with large amounts of economic aid and tried to strengthen their cooperative relationship by concluding a treaty of friendship, cooperation and peace. On the international scene, India endeavored behind the scenes to help Bangladesh obtain recognition by various countries and positively worked for Bangladesh's participation in the United Nations. As a result, Bangladesh was recognized by as many as 98 countries (by the end of March 1973) and obtained economic aid totaling $1,300 million from various countries, thereby succeeding in solidifying its international position.

On the other hand, Pakistan still refused to recognize Bangladesh partly because of its national sentiment. In the United Nations, it enlisted China's support to oppose the admission of Bangladesh to the United Nations, and therefore Bangladesh's admission was not realized.

Pakistan tried to open talks in some form or other with Bangladesh partly because of the pending issue of the repatriation of its prisoners of war. But no talks were realized partly because of Bangladesh's position which demanded its recognition before holding talks.


3. Worsening of the economic situation in various countries


A phenomenon common to the countries in the Indian subcontinent in the past year was the conspicuous worsening of domestic economic conditions. Pakistan, which spent huge amounts of money for the civil war in East Pakistan and the war against India only to finally lose East Pakistan, a source of raw materials for its jute industry and a market, was beset with many economic difficulties. In this situation, urban workers went on strike, a riot over the language problem occurred in Karachi and other areas and there were moves demanding autonomy in the northwestern border states and in the state of Baltistan. In India, too, the economic performance both in the agricultural and industrial sectors was poor because of an abnormal drought in addition to the burden of war expenditures, and the situation in cities worsened because of increased unemployment, price increases and labor unrest. Bangladesh also suffered damage caused by the abnormal drought in addition to the deep scars to its society and economy caused by the war. Its economic reconstruction was not easy, and total production dropped considerably below the prewar level. In Sri Lanka and Nepal, the economic situation worsened mainly because of the poor performance in the agricultural sector.


4. Moves of the United States, China and the Soviet Union


The situation in the Indian subcontinent during the Indo-Pakistani war was complicated because of moves of the three major powers-the United States, China and the Soviet Union. Moves of these countries continued to be a focus of attention even after the war,

The Soviet Union continued to try to strengthen its relations with India on the basis of the Indo-Soviet 'Treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation concluded in the summer of 1971, and endeavored to increase its influence over Bangladesh by providing it with a considerable amount of economic aid.

China firmly maintained its attitude of supporting Pakistan, and blocked Bangladesh's admission to the United Nations by exercising its veto when the U.N. considered Bangladesh's application for admission. China also tried to strengthen its relations with Sri Lanka and Nepal by increasing its economic aid.

The United States showed a very positive attitude toward economic aid to Bangladesh, but it did not make any positive moves toward India and Pakistan in the past year. However, the United States announced a measure in March 1973 to ease the embargo on exports of weapons to India and Pakistan, and decided to resume its commitment to supply economic aid to India, which was temporarily suspended at the end of 1971. These actions were considered significant.


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