The Delhi Agreement was a trilateral agreement signed between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh on 28 August 1973; and ratified only by India and Pakistan.[1] It allowed the repatriation of prisoners of war and interned officials held in the three countries after the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. The agreement has been criticised for Pakistan's failure to repatriate Urdu-speakers in Bangladesh, not holding to account 195 senior military officials accused of breach of conduct during war and not making provision for a war crimes tribunal.[2]

Delhi Agreement
Transfer of Population Under the Terms of the Delhi Agreement
Flags of India and Pakistan being lowered at the Wagah Border in Punjab
TypePopulation transfer
ContextCold war
Drafted17 April 1973
Signed9 April 1973; 51 years ago (1973-04-09)
LocationNew Delhi, India
Sealed19 September 1973
Effective28 August 1973
ConditionRatification by both parties
Expiration28 August 1974 (1974-08-28)
Expiry1 July 1974
MediatorsInterior ministries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
NegotiatorsForeign ministries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
SignatoriesSwaran Singh
(Minister of External Affairs)
Aziz Ahmed
(Foreign Minister of Pakistan)
Kamal Hossain
(Foreign Minister of Bangladesh)
Parties India
RatifiersParliaments of India and Pakistan
DepositaryIndira Gandhi
Prime Minister of India
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Prime Minister of Pakistan

The treaty was signed by the foreign ministers of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in New Delhi after the Simla Agreement.[1]

Background edit

During the 1971 Bangladesh War, thousands of Bengali bureaucrats and military personnel were interned in West Pakistan along with their families by the Pakistani Government. In Bangladesh, many in the Urdu-speaking community wished to relocate to Pakistan. India held several thousand Pakistani prisoners of war after the Surrender of Pakistan on 16 December 1971, including 195 military officers held for breach of conduct.

President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (at the time Chief Martial Law Administrator) threatened to put interned Bengali officials on trial if Bangladesh proceeded with plans to indict alleged Pakistani war criminals.[3]

Implementation edit

The treaty came into effect on 28 August 1973 and ended on 1 July 1974. Under the terms of the agreement, UNHCR supervised the repatriation of Bangladeshi and Pakistani citizens. According to the UN, 121,695 Bengalis were moved from Pakistan to Bangladesh. They included high-level Bengali civil servants and military officers. 108,744 non-Bengali civilians and civil servants were moved from Bangladesh to Pakistan.[4] India released 6,500 Pakistani PoWs, who were mostly transported by train to Pakistan.[5] In 1975, General Niazi was the last Pakistan officer symbolically repatriated through the Wagah - Attari Border.[4]

Although the agreement called for the repatriation of Urdu-speaking Biharis in Bangladesh, the Pakistani Government backtracked on its promise to resettle the community in Pakistan.[6] This gave rise to the stateless Stranded Pakistani community in Bangladesh.

War crimes suspects edit

Among the PoWs, 195 Pakistani military officers held in India were identified as prime war crimes suspects. Pakistan pressed for their release as one of its key demands. It pressured several Muslim countries to withhold recognition of Bangladesh until the release of the 195 officers.[7] India favoured their repatriation to Pakistan. In the text of the agreement, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Kamal Hossain, stated that:

the excesses and manifold crimes committed by those prisoners of war constituted, according to the relevant provisions of the UN General Assembly resolutions and international law, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and that there was universal consensus that persons charged with such crimes as 195 Pakistani prisoners of war should be held to account and subjected to the due process of law.[5]

Pakistan evaded Bangladesh's request to hold the trial of war crimes suspects. However, Aziz Ahmed, the Pakistani delegate at the Delhi meeting, stated that his government "deeply regretted any crimes that may have been committed".[5][2]

Legacy edit

The repatriation was an important milestone in the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1974. In Bangladesh, many repatriated officials rose to prominence. A notable example was Justice Abdus Sattar, the 9th President of Bangladesh. Many repatriated military personnel served in the leadership of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, including Rear Admiral Mahbub Ali Khan, Lt General Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman and Lt Gen Attiq ur Rehman (a Lt Col, commanding an Anti Aircraft Artillery Regiment in 1971).

Pakistan's inability to repatriate stateless Urdu-speakers in Bangladesh as well as its refusal to try those accused of war crimes remains a major sore point in Bangladesh-Pakistan relations.

References edit

  1. ^ a b Levie, Howard S. (January 1974). "The Indo-Pakistani Agreement of August 28, 1973". American Journal of International Law. 68 (1). American Society of International Law: 95–97. doi:10.2307/2198806. JSTOR 2198806. S2CID 246007433.
  2. ^ a b Ahamed, Syeed (May 2010). "The Curious Case of the 195 War Criminals". Forum. The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 3 December 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  3. ^ Facts on File Yearbook: 1973. Facts on File. 1973. p. 525. ISBN 978-0-87196-032-0.
  4. ^ a b UN. "Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees". UNCHR. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Text of the tri-patriate agreement of Bangladesh-Pakistan-India". 2 March 2008.
  6. ^ Stanley Walpert (1993). Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan:his life and times. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195076615.
  7. ^ Khasru, B. Z. The Bangladesh Military Coup and the CIA Link. Rupa Publications India Pvt. ISBN 9788129134165.

Readings edit