Forty Years Ago, March 13, 1979: Pakistan quits CENTO

Forty Years Ago, March 13, 1979: Pakistan quits CENTO

Pakistan announced termination of its membership in the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) thus qualifying to become a full member of the non-aligned movement. Pakistan joined the pact in 1955 when it was called the Baghdad Pact. It changed its name to CENTO in 1958 when Iraq, “the founding member,” quit the organisation, and ordered its headquarters moved out of the country. Pakistan’s decision was announced by Agha Shahi, foreign affairs adviser to President Zia-ul Haq. The move came less then 24 hours after Shahi returned from Iran following a four-day visit to Teheran and the holy city of Qum. The official statement issued by Shahi said Pakistan was quitting CENTO “in the light of the new realities”, as a result of which “the alliance had lost its relevance to Pakistan’s security concerns.”

CWC rejects unity

The Congress Working Committee decided against unity with Indira Gandhi’s Congress. With this, the chapter on unity between the two Congresses comes to a close, the Congress president, Swaran Singh, himself a unity enthusiast, told newsmen following the working committee meeting.

Indira reprieve in UP

The 12-day Banarasi Das ministry got a reprieve in the UP assembly because of a remote control rescue operation by Mrs Indira Gandhi, who, however, kept her options open to use her party’s balancing position in the state as a bargaining point in the future.

Elusive peace

The US President Jimmy Carter, his West Asian peace mission at a crucial crossroad, said he had fallen short of a treaty. He told the Israeli Parliament that more flexibility was needed. After hearing the results of an all-night Israeli cabinet meeting, Carter told the Knesset that leaders of the two nations were not yet ready to risk a peace treaty, although their people were ready for peace.