Indira Gandhi confidante P.N. Dhar dead

July 19th, 2012 - 11:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Well-known economist and principal secretary to prime minister Indira Gandhi in the 1970s, Prithvi Nath Dhar died here Thursday.

Dhar, 94, died of old-age related problems. The cremation is scheduled for Friday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mourned the death of the veteran bureaucrat and sent a letter of condolences to Dhar’s son.

Dhar was professor of economics at the Delhi University and joined the Prime Minister’s Office in 1970.

Dhar was also a member of the team which accompanied Gandhi when she signed the Simla Agreement with then Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after the 1971 Bangladesh war.

After intense and tortuous negotiations that virtually collapsed till Bhutto reportedly held one-on-one talks with Gandhi on the evening of July 2, the Simla Agreement was signed at 12.40 a.m. on July 3, 1972.

The agreement laid down the principles to govern relations between India and Pakistan and steps to be taken to further normalize bilateral ties.

There was no explicit mention of the Kashmir issue. But there was a tacit understanding that the the Line of Control (LoC) resulting from the 1971 truce should be converted into the international border, marking the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

According to Dhar, Gandhi asked Bhutto: “Is this the understanding on which to proceed?”

Bhutto replied: “Absolutely! Aap mujh par bharosa keejiye (trust me).”

The Pakistani leader never kept his word, and refused to have any written records of these conversations.

Dhar was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2008.

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