Find Mediators Near You:

The Delhi Pact, 1950: Negotiating to Not Wage War



There are certain events in the history of every nation that continues to shape their destiny even in the contemporary era. For Germany it was Nazism, for Russia it was the Russian Revolution, for United States of America, it was the Civil War and for India, it was the Partition. Partition, one of the worst tragedies of mankind witnessed a huge magnitude of human displacement, abduction of women and children, massacre of minorities and many other forms of violence.

As a result of the same, both countries developed a hostile relationship towards each other and severed all economic, foreign, diplomatic connections. However, in 1950, both the nations encountered a huge humanitarian crisis wherein millions of Hindus from East Bengal (Then Pakistan) migrated to West Bengal, Assam, Tripura (Indian States) and Muslims from West Bengal, Assam and Tripura to East Bengal in order to get back to the countries they desired to be associated with. Thus, in order to ensure safe migration, the governments of both the countries had to reconcile.


The rate of bloodshed, damage to property, abduction and rape of women and children rose to such an extent that the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan had to visit Delhi and meet Dr. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India. Both of the diplomats indulged in a 6 day negotiation which indeed resulted in a “bill of rights of minorities” for both the nations. The agreement was called the Liaquat- Nehru Pacand its objective was to ensure the well being of the minorities and refugees on either sides.


Negotiation as a form of ADR, though gaining humungous popularity in the recent past, it is considered to be one of the oldest forms of dispute resolution. This is quite evident from the negotiation taken place before the formation of the Liaquat- Nehru Pact.

  1. accessed 19 March 2020.pdf> accessed 19 March 2020

In this journal, I’ve attempted to analyze the negotiation taken place behind the creation of the Liaquat-Nehru Pact, the failure of which was quoted by our Hon’ble Home Affairs Minister, Amit Shah to be one of the reasons for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.


Equality of Bargaining Power:

In this negotiation, it is to be noted that there is an immense inequality of bargaining power between the parties. India, with an already functioning government, more finances, natural resources and experienced leaders had an upper hand over Pakistan which was fragile economically, socially with no sense of governance apart from a good defence personnel. Thus the negotiation failed under the aspect of equality of bargaining power.

Method of Negotiation:

Under this head, though the Liaquat- Nehru Pact was a wholesome agreement on paper but was next to impossible to be implemented in Pakistan. The agreement is inefficient because it required both the parties to set up Minority Commissions at the state level, provision of compensation and transport to be given. India, as a party was in a strong position to abide by these points but the same is not the case with Pakistan. Pakistan eventually did not manage to set up these Commissions due to the above-mentioned reasons. The ulterior reason for it to enter into this negotiation was to prevent a war which was very likely to be waged by India. Hence it was in a way forced to enter into this negotiation and not voluntarily.

Type of Negotiation (Substantive or Procedural):

This negotiation was not dealing with the existence of migration as a difficulty but was focussing on the procedure for dealing with the issue of violence and aggression taking place during the mass migration.

Nature of Negotiation:

The parties should neither be hard (aggressive) nor soft (submissive) towards the other party in the negotiation process. But India here acted as a pseudo – aggressive party to Pakistan wherein it blatantly took advantage of the helpless situation of Pakistan at that time. Pakistan initially suggested a lower cap of compensation2 to be provided, but the Indian diplomats raised the compensation cap to Rs.150 and Rs. 75 for an adult and a child respectively. Further the establishments of Minority Board at the District level assisting the Minority Commission at the state level was suggested by the Indian parties to ensure precaution and transparency in the migration process. Though Pakistan agreed to the same, but it clearly lacked the infrastructure to make it work and hence Pakistan had to yield to the pressure by being a soft party.


To focus on Interests and NOT Positions:

It should be noted here that the negotiation took place at New Delhi, India which hints towards India possessing a superior hand already. Here, the positions of both the parties was to draft an agreement ensuring the safety of the minorities in both the nations. However, the interests of both the parties were different. Pakistan initiated the negotiation to prevent a war, to not being blacklisted by the United Nations, to possibly develop healthy economic relations with India for its well being. All of this can only be done through this “bill of rights of the minorities”3. The Indian interests prioritized the subjugation of Pakistan more than the protection of minorities. It should be noted that it was difficult for the muslims from East Bengal to cross the Indian subcontinent than for the Hindus who merely had to cross the borders of East Bengal. Thus, India,in failing to separate the person from the problem, took it on its ego by considering Pakistan’s position. It then drafted an agreement in such a manner.

Brainstorming Options Without Prejudice:

Here, both the Indian and the Pakistani governments did a good job on serving as many options on the table as possible without comprehending the feasibility of implementing such expensive options. Though a good strategy to generate more options, Pakistan should’ve thought about its capability of executing the terms being negotiated. India here should have opted for certain cheaper options than the present one.

Creating Alternatives:

Here, Pakistan’s Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement would be to initiate steps in its own capacity to secure its potential citizens and its Worst Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement would be to leave them on their own accord. The same was true for India as well. But the number of people migrating to Pakistan were more than those migrating to India. Hence the agreement, though a good deal on paper for Pakistan as it was able to secure a position better than its BATNA yet it lacked the resources to perform the agreement.

Laying down an Objective Criteria:

The criteria laid down was merely urgency of the matter aiming to secure an agreement as soon as possible. However, they ignored the criteria of finances, natural resources, transport facilities and other important aspects. Here, ideally India could’ve shared Pakistan’s expenses which it would’ve retrieved in the future.

Communication to be effective:

Though both the sides communicated their issues well, asked open ended questions and summarized their concerns, still the agreement turned out to be unfair towards Pakistan to a large extent.

Relationship eventually ruined:

The relationship between the parties soon after the negotiation had improved but deteriorated to a large extent in the near future due to non compliance of the agreement from both the sides.

Commitment NOT Only on Paper:

Both the parties committed to the terms of the negotiation by drafting an agreement which they never performed.


To focus on why the other person wants a certain thing more than what he/she wants. To keep oneself in the shoes of the other party to get a multiple perspective on the same issue. To not let emotions, enter into one’s mind while negotiating and to communicate effectively. Negotiation is not about defeating the other party but for both the parties to emerge as winners via a compromise.


While analyzing this historic negotiation, one needs to question the quality of negotiation that is taking place at an international level. Here, I have analyzed more from Pakistan’s perspective as it was the weaker party but a different approach for me would be to still appreciate the credentials of a potentially stronger party on paper as not all the parties with a higher bargaining power exploit the weaker ones.


While concluding, it is necessary to concede that this negotiation was important as it saved the world from becoming spectator to another warfare amidst the chaos of partition and the Kashmir issue, even though it was not conducted in the manner it should have ideally been.


S Kushi

My name is S.Kushi and I am a third year law student of Jindal Global Law School, Delhi-NCR, India. I served as a teaching assistant to Professor Dr. Shiv Visvanathan (very well known anthropologist) and have stood on top of my class for the past three years. MORE >

Featured Members

View all

Read these next


The Evolution of Hunters and Gatherers

“Us and them. And after all we’re only ordinary men.Me and you. God only knows its not what we would choose to do.With, without. And who’ll deny that’s what the...

By Jeffrey Krivis

Mediation Center Director Re-Inspired by the Transformative Approach

Guest Post to Dan Simon's Transformative Mediation by Sheri TardioLast weekend I and about 20 other mediators from Calvert and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland took an advanced training in...

By Dan Simon

A New Generation of Mediators

Kluwer Mediation Blog.I was pleased to read that this year’s ICC Competition went so well. Having hosted the UK Law Student Mediation Competition in Glasgow in November I was first-hand...

By Charlie Irvine