India curbs undermining peacekeeping operations in IIOJK: UN

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A United Nations report pinpointed a series of actions taken by India in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir over the years that have impaired the peacekeeping responsibilities of the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which monitors the Line of Control (LoC), and called for measures to overcome those challenges.

“On the Indian side of the LoC and (Sialkot) Working Boundary, UNMOGIP military observers have no freedom of movement to conduct operational tasks,” according to the group’s audit report.

“UNMOGIP military observers and international staff experience long delays in obtaining visas to travel to the occupied Kashmir, ” the report added.

The group, now numbering 44 observers, was established in 1949 as a peacekeeping mission by the Security Council to act on its behalf as an instrument to preserve and sustain peace in the region.

“Further,” the report said, “UNMOGIP has not been receiving complaints of alleged ceasefire violations from India since 1972.”

“On the Pakistan side of the LoC and Working Boundary,” the report said the mission conducted 666 observation post tasks: 259 in 2020 and 407 in 2021, received 149 complaints of alleged ceasefire violations; 140 in 2020 and 9 in 2021, and investigated 141 complaints; 132 in 2020; and 9 in 2021.

In addition, the group said it received 32 petitions from local authorities in Pakistan: 20 in 2020 and 12 in 2021.

“While UNMOGIP provided weekly, monthly and annual reports on its work to DPO (Department of Peace Operations), there was no evidence of any action taken on these reports,” the report pointed out.

As a result of Indian restrictions on the movement of UNMOGIP officials, the report said the group was constrained to establish only 11 field stations, with several of them having only one military observer deployed to monitor and report the ceasefire violations.

It also said the curbs have also stretched UNMOGIP’s operational expenses as New Delhi shut down the Working Boundary Crossing Point (BCP) at Jammu and Sialkot in March 2020, forcing UNMOGIP to use a much longer route from Wagha Border to reach its field stations in Jammu.

Not only that India has also withdrawn its in-kind contributions such as logistical facilities and free food rations to military observers performing their duties in the field stations. Since 2013, India has collected several hundred thousand rupees from UNMOGIP every month in lieu of accommodation and food rationing facilities, the report said.

India’s measures, according to the report, have led to UNMOGIP paying over $1 million in the period between September 2013 and December 2021. While UNMOGIP has been making these payments, the report said it is doing so “under protest” as a way to express its disagreement with the charges levied by the Government of India.

In this context, the report called on the UNMOGIP to explore ways to provide periodic feedback to both Pakistan and India, as well as the Secretary-General on the findings of various investigations, including for ceasefire violations. The recommendation is aimed at strengthening the accountability mechanism.

Finally, the report stresses the need to ensure UNMOGIP’s optimum operational strength in the field, a recommendation that supports Pakistan’s call for bolstering the group to enhance its operational capabilities and effectiveness.—APP