The Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958: A Brief Overview
The Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958, also known as the Indo-Pakistani Agreement of 1958, was a pact signed between India and Pakistan seeking a resolution to the longstanding border dispute over the Rann of Kutch region in Gujarat.
The conflict over the Rann of Kutch, a marshy region located in the western part of the Indian subcontinent, had been brewing for years before it finally erupted into open hostilities in 1965. In May 1956, Pakistan had made a formal claim to the eastern half of the region, which India argued was part of its territory. The dispute escalated in December 1964 as Pakistani troops, reportedly aided by Jordanian and United States forces, launched a surprise attack on Indian positions in the Rann of Kutch.
The Nehru-Noon Agreement, signed on June 30, 1958, was the first effort by the two countries to resolve the issue peacefully. The pact was brokered by the United Nations and signed by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani Prime Minister Feroz Khan Noon.
Under the terms of the agreement, a five-member tribunal was established to determine the boundary in the disputed area. The tribunal was composed of two judges from India, two from Pakistan, and a fifth judge agreed upon by both countries. The tribunal was tasked with reviewing maps and other documents and conducting a ground survey of the disputed area to determine the boundary.
In February 1959, the tribunal presented its findings, which were based on the principle of the thalweg, or the main channel of a river. The tribunal ruled that the entire Rann of Kutch should be awarded to India, with Pakistan being given access to the sea at the western edge of the region.
The Nehru-Noon Agreement was seen as a significant step towards resolving the India-Pakistan border dispute, which has been a source of tension between the two countries since the Partition in 1947. However, the agreement was short-lived, and the two countries would go on to engage in several more wars over the years.
In conclusion, the Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958 was a crucial moment in the history of India-Pakistan relations. Despite its limited success, it paved the way for future negotiations and demonstrated the value of peaceful dialogue in resolving potentially explosive conflicts.