May 2000 News

UN observers to remain deployed on LoC

25 May 2000
Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: Pakistan has defeated India''s move seeking the closure of the offices of the UN military observers in Jammu and Kashmir. New Delhi''s proposal in this regard has not been accepted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan. Following the receipt of information about India''s mounting pressure in support of its proposal against the offices of the UN military observers in J&K, Islamabad pressed into service its Foreign Office and lobbyists in the United States to ensure the failure of New Delhi''s proposal. Islamabad''s drive in support of the continuance of the UN observers on either side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir bore fruit with UN Secretary- General''s refusal to accept the Indian proposal. Indian authorities, diplomatic sources divulged, lobbied desperately in New York for days together for paving the way for winding up of the UN military observers'' group in Kashmir. UN Secretary-General, of course, took cognizance of Indian Government''s opposition to the presence of UN military observers in Jammu and Kashmir. But he took the Indian authorities by surprise with his verdict on the proposal. Mr Kofi Annan''s verdict: Only the Security Council has the power to disband the UN military observers'' group. The verdict has been hailed by Pakistan''s Foreign Office. In fact, Islamabad has submitted a proposal to the UN Secretary-General, calling for his intervention in the matter arising from New Delhi''s unwillingness to accept the role of the UN military observers in Kashmir. Mr Kofi Annan was told by Indian side that New Delhi continued to pursue its re-structured policy since the end of the 1971 war with Pakistan, namely, not to accept the role of UN observers in monitoring the happenings along the LoC. Pakistan''s English publication, The News, quoted sources in the Foreign Office as saying that the most recent attempt for termination of the UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan) was made on the advice of the Indian Defence Ministry. The UNMOGIP is a field mission supported by UN field service personnel. The mission is headed by a chief military observer (CMO) who is appointed, and directly responsible to, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The existing group consists of 40-odd military observers from different nationalities. These observers are either regular or reserve officers assigned to UNMOGIP by their respective Governments at the request of the UN Secretary-General. The administrative element, which supports the military observers, is headed by a chief administrative officer (CAO) and comprises 33 UN field service officers, all international staff, including the personnel necessary to operate the UN international radio station at Rawalpindi. The 40-odd observers'' group is charged with the task of policing the 540-mile Line of Control (formerly cease-fire line) in Jammu and Kashmir since the first Indo-Pakistan war in 1947. Fifteen of them are stationed on the Indian side of the LoC, the rest operating across on the Pakistani side. Command, control, direction and administrative support are provided through UNMOGIP headquarters at Srinagar from May 1 to October 31 and at Rawalpindi from November 1 to April 30 every year. In Jammu and Kashmir, UN military observers have, after the Indo-Pak war in 1971, ceased to be the men of importance. After the Line of Control in J&K was delineated on the ground by representatives of the armies of India and Pakistan in December 1972, New Delhi ordered the defence authorities in the State to avoid attaching any importance to the UN observers. In other words, the foreign observers were deprived of the authority of policing the LoC and taking notice of happenings including border skirmishes between patrols of the two countries. Indian border posts and pickets have already been declared out of bounds for the UN military observers in J&K. The development was provoked by the discovery of pro-Pakistan ''strategic priorities'' quietly pursued by a group of UN observers on the Indian side of the LoC. Significantly, however, the UN military observers, based in Kashmir, do not look nervous inspite of the discreet surveillance on them in Srinagar and elsewhere in the State. Indeed, many of them have been reported to be defiant, apparently unwilling to wind up their field stations in areas where their freedom has been limited. Pakistan''s Foreign Office has let it be known that since the establishment of UNMOGIP in 1949, the Pak military authorities have continuously lodged complaints with the UNMOGIP about border ''violations'' by the Indians. Indian authorities, on the other hand, have not lodged even a single complaint against Pakistan since January 1972. Indian authorities have, however, continued to provide accommodation, transport and other facilities to the UN military observers.


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