The road to Tashkent

Shastri's greater worry was about the withdrawal of troops to the positions they held before Pakistan's infiltrations into Kashmir on August 5. The Indian army had paid a heavy price to wrest from Pakistan the highly strategic Haji Pir Pass, the most convenient route for Pakistan's infiltrators. There was a strong feeling in the country that Haji Pir should never be returned to Pakistan. Though normally a cautious man, Shastri himself intensified this sentiment by declaring repeatedly that if Haji Pir were to be given back to Pakistan, "some other prime minister would do it".

Meanwhile, the Soviets invited foreign minister Swaran Singh to Moscow a week before the start of the Tashkent conference. The message he brought back was that while the Soviet Union stuck to its traditional stand that Kashmir was a part of India, it was also of the firm view that peace between India and Pakistan must be established on the basis of the UN Security Council resolution of September 20, which demanded the "withdrawal of all armed personnel to positions held prior to August 5, 1965".

This, as we shall see, was to be a source of great trouble during the Tashkent talks, as well as afterwards.

The writer is a Delhi-based political commentator

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