By Arul Louis
United Nations, Sep 10 (IANS) Departing from the Security Council debate topic of peacekeeping operations, Pakistan has raised the Kashmir issue asking the Security Council to look at strengthening the UN observer operation there.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi said on Monday that it was important for the Council to start “exploring options to strengthen” UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) because of the developments there since India rescinded its special constitutional status last month.
UNMOGIP is not a peace-keeping operation and of its 116 personnel, the majority are civilians with only 44 drawn from militaries and designated as experts.
India considers the UMOGIP created in 1949 to monitor the ceasefire between the neighbours redundant because of the 1972 Simla Agreement by which the two countries declared that their disputes are bilateral matters and also defined the Line of Control, superseding the ceasefire line that the observers were mandated to monitor.
But the UNMOGIP continues to operate in Kashmir because the Council has not rescinded the mandate given to it. It was originally known as the UN Commission for India and Pakistan.
Toughening its stance against it, India asked the UNMOGIP in 2014 to leave the building on Purana Qila Road that it had given it rent-free and it moved its Delhi office to a private premise in Vasant Vihar.
Lodhi told the Council that “UNMOGIP’s role and importance has increased dramatically” since August 5 when India ended Kashmir’s constitutional special status, which she asserted was “illegal de facto annexation.”
UNMOGIP’s “efficacy has also become consequential due to mounting ceasefire violations by Indian forces, which necessitates regular and formal reporting to the Council,” she added.
However, in keeping with its policy that the UNMOGIP is irrelevant, India stopped reporting Pakistani ceasefire violations in 1972, treating them as bilateral matters.
Lodhi also said that the Council should “ensure that India also allows it the requisite freedom of access and movement, in order for it to fulfil its mandate”.
Apart from the signature deviation about Kashmir in the debate on peacekeeping operations, Lodhi spoke about the problems common to countries contributing troops to UN peacekeeping operations.
As they are among the biggest troop contributors, India and Pakistan share views on some of the issues facing peace-keeping and she made some points similar to those that India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin had made earlier in the debate.
Lodhi criticised the use of caveats by some countries that restrict how and where personnel or equipment can be used.
She also questioned the lack of clear policies that sometimes expected peacekeepers negotiate political solutions or “enforce peace”.
She said that the UN Secretariat should provide a “pragmatic and realistic analysis of the situation”, which should be “reflected by the Council in mandates”.
Akbaruddin had criticised the “culture of caveats that bedevils peacekeeping” and also said that troop-contributing should be associated in a “predictable manner in the decision-making”.
“Peacekeeping is in a ‘no-man’s land’, between trying to keep the peace in fragile environments and trying to enforce the maintenance of peace, where there is none to keep,” he said.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)