Dr Muhammad Khan
INDIAN brinksmanship against Pakistan and killings of innocent Kashmiris has been going on since decades. However, it was alarming once this South Asian aggressor deliberately targeted the vehicle of United Nations in border areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on December 18, 2020. Two military observers of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) were on their way to Chirikot sector to meet the victims of Indian Army firing from across the ceasefire line in village Polas. This border town along with many other areas along the ceasefire line in AJK have been heavily affected by unprovoked Indian firing since last few years. Just in 2020, there have been 2992 incidents of Indian firing (ceasefire violations) from across the ceasefire line with small arms, heavy weapons and Artillery. The reported casualties as a result of these firing in 2020 along are; 27 deaths and serious to injuries to 249 civilians (92 women and 68 children). The military casualties of the Pakistan Army men are beside these. The wilful Firing over the clearly demarcated vehicles of United Nations Military Observers is a grave violation of international law, UN Charter and UN resolutions which appointed these military observers in Pakistan and India through its resolution.
It is to be noted that, Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was mandated peacekeeping mission (observe, monitor and investigate the ceasefire agreement) through UN Security Council Resolutions. Indeed, UNMOGIP replaced the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), which was originally established in January 1948. Apart from disallowing any change in the nature of Kashmir dispute UNSC Resolution number 91, allowed continuation of UNMOGIP to keep on functioning in both parts of Jammu and Kashmir for observing monitoring and investigating the ceasefire violations by both sides. It was in succession of UN Resolutions; 39 (1948) and 47 (1948), establishment and enlargement of United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to observe ceasefire in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier India and Pakistan signed Karachi Agreement, allowing supervision of ceasefire line by UN Observers in March 1951. Since its establishment in 1951, UNMOGIP has been performing its assignments efficiently in line with the UN mandate. Since its initial established in 1951, Pakistan has always cooperated and facilitated the functioning of UNMOGIP whereas, India always tried to restrict its functioning in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
It is worth mentioning that, in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ordered UNMOGIP to vacate a government building under its use in New Delhi. According to Major Nicolas Diaz, the Officer in Charge of New Delhi Headquarters of UNMOGIP in 2014, Indian authorities have not given any good reasons, while ordering vacating the building currently in use of the mission. In fact India started discrediting the UNMOGIP immediately after Simla Accord of 1972. India even has not been consulting the mission concerning ceasefire violations along the ceasefire (Line of Control) in IIOJK. Taking the plea of Simla Accord, India has approached United Nations to declare UN resolution on Kashmir as old, out-dated and irrelevant. This World body (UN) however, never accepted the unfounded Indian stance and maintained that, UN resolutions are totally relevant and valid, until the resolution of the dispute is found in accordance with these (resolutions) through impartial plebiscite or else, declared obsolete through another UN resolution.
This UN stance is based on its Charter, which gives right of self-determination to everybody including the people of Jammu and Kashmir. International community and India itself has accepted these resolutions. It was only the implementation stages, where India created hurdles, one after the other. Pakistan feels that, “United Nations resolutions on Kashmir remain valid, legal and operative unless the world body comes out with a new resolution on the dispute.” Indeed, UN resolutions on Kashmir besides being legal reflect the will of the international community. There is no bilateralism over Kashmir even in the Simla Accord-1972. Furthermore, the unilateral Act of India on August 5, 2019, undoing its special status, relegating it to union territories and imposition of siege for over 500 days now is a violation of Simla Accord also. Indeed, Kashmir is neither a bilateral issue nor its solution can be found through this approach. It is an international dispute and its decision can only be found by giving Kashmiris their right of self-determination as per UN resolutions. Two UN resolutions; March 30, 1951 and January 24, 1957 clearly reject any unilateral action by any party to dispute. These resolutions call for right of self-determination and continuation of the mission by UNMOGIP until resolution of Kashmir dispute is found.
The incident of deliberate and unprovoked Indian firing on the vehicle of UNMOGIP in Chirikot sector of AJK is the worst form of aggression and violation of international law, the Geneva Conventions and the ceasefire agreement-2003. Pakistan considers it that, “The reprehensible act of unprovoked firing by India on the UNMOGIP officers is indicative of a new low in the conduct of Indian occupation troops.” No more evidences can be given to United Nations about Indian aggression and violations once its own military observer group is attacked and its resolutions are repeatedly violated by India. This incident and incidents of Indian firing across the ceasefire line in Azad Kashmir area should be an eye opener for United Nations, major powers and international community. There will be a question mark on the credibility and efficacy of UN, if it fails to take action against Indian brinksmanship and aggression over the firing on the vehicle of UNMOGIP.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.