By Arul Louis
United Nations: The UN has asked the Indian government for additional escorts for its military observers in Kashmir after one of its vehicles was stopped by a group of protesters in Jammu, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
“The observer group reported on February 16 that a UN vehicle in the city of Jammu was surrounded by a group of protesters who placed a Pakistan flag in front of the vehicle. The vehicle attempted to bypass the flag but was unable to do so,” Dujarric told the media on Tuesday.
He said the circumstances of the incident was “regrettable and unavoidable” and that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) had informed the governments of both countries.
“The Mission also requested India to provide additional escorts and will be conducting an investigation,” he added.
It was not clear if the protesters were pro-Pakistani or were supporters of India, who used the Pakistani flag to protest what they may perceive as UNMOGIP’s bias and its presence in the state.
The 44-member UNMOGIP, now led by Uruguayan Major General Jose Eladio Alcain, began operations in 1949 to monitor the ceasefire in Kashmir following up a Security Council resolution the previous year.
India maintains that UNMOGIP has become redundant because under the Shimla Agreement of 1972 between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan’s then-President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue with no role for third parties.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)