Thursday, January 10, 2013

LoC skirmishes: India unlikely to accept UNMOGIP role

YUSUF JAMEEL SRINAGAR Jan. 9: If Pakistan’s offer that the recent combats along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir may be investigated by the United Nations Military Observers’ Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) is conceded by New Delhi, the 39-member group will, at least, undergo some toil after years of seclusion actually forced by it (India). It will also restore its legitimacy fully as India has sought to keep it at arm's length ever since the 'Ceasefire Line' in Kashmir was re-designated as the "Line of Control" following the Simla Agreement of 1972. Hence, it is unlikely that India will even agree to give any kind of consideration to the Pakistani suggestion of involving the UNMOGIP into any kind of probe into the alleged, and since refuted, ceasefire violations and intrusions along the de facto border by either side. After the UN Security Council enforced ceasefire between India and Pakistan in Kashmir in January 1949, the two countries signed Karachi Agreement in March 1951 and established a ceasefire line to be supervised by observers. The same year, after the termination of the UNCIP, the Security Council passed a resolution (91-1951) under which UNMOGIP was established to observe and report violations of ceasefire. However, after the signing of the Simla pact, India and Pakistan disagree on UNMOGIP’s mandate in Kashmir. India argues that the mandate of UNMOGIP has lapsed after Simla agreement because it was specifically established to observe ceasefire according to Karachi Agreement, the assertion questioned by Pakistan. The military authorities of the neighbouring country have continued to lodge complaints about alleged ceasefire violations along the LoC with UNMOGIP. On the other hand, India has lodged no such complaints with it since January 1972 and has restricted the military observers on its side of the de facto border yet have continued to provide accommodation, security, transport and other facilities to UNMOGIP. However, the UN Secretary General’s office maintains that the UNMOGIP should continue to function because no resolution has been passed to terminate it. If India moves such a resolution in the UN Security Council, directly or through an ally member, it would only bring the issue of Kashmir back to the limelight at International level which India will never want to, say the Kashmir watchers. Nevertheless, the LoC only refers to the military control line between India and Pakistan in Kashmir and does not constitute a legally recognized international boundary but is the de facto border. However, voices are being raised both in India and Pakistan and at International level to make it a permanent border between the two countries. India has constructed a 12-feet high double-row of fencing and concertina wire along a 550 km portion of the 740 km long LoC which is electrified and connected to a network of motion sensors, thermal imaging devices, lighting systems and alarms in order to discourage infiltration from across the de facto border. Indian army says that it has, in fact, reduced by eighty percent the number of militants and other “undesirable elements” who cross into its side of the LoC to carry out subversive activities. Islamabad has resented the construction of the barrier, saying it violates both bilateral accords and relevant UN Security Council resolutions. At present, the UNMOGIP has 39 military observers drawn from Chile, Croatia, Finland, Italy, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Thailand and Uruguay, 25 international civilian personnel and 48 local civilian staff. It operates from Srinagar in summer and Rawalpindi in winter but has regional offices at various places across Jammu and Kashmir including Jammu, Poonch, Muzaffarabad and Mirpur and the costs which are US $21,084,900 (2012-13) are met directly under the UN regular budget. Meanwhile, the UNMOGIP has received an official complaint from the Pakistan army and will conduct a probe into the ceasefire violations on the LoC. "Regarding the January 6 alleged incident, the UNMOGIP has received an official complaint from the Pakistan army and will conduct an investigation as soon as possible in accordance with its mandate," Martin Nesirky, spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was quoted as saying at a press briefing in New York.

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