Intro: Asking UNMOGIP to vacate bungalow in New Delhi is a sophisticated way of telling the organisation, it is no longer welcome on Indian soil.
The United Nation Military Observers Group In India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has a swanky address, 1/AB, Purana Qila Road, New Delhi, from where it has been functioning since 1949 with a budget running into millions of dollars, and a staff nearing 100 international and Indian personnel.
The UNMOGIP has not made any contribution towards its mandate for many decades now. The official web site of the body has press releases that speak only of appointments of military observers and such like mundane activities. India has, since long, ceased to give to the body any report or data but Pakistan does so assiduously.
The UNMOGIP came into existence between 1949 and 1951 to maintain sanctity of the ceasefire line drawn between India and Pakistan after the War of 1947-48. Intellectuals look upon this as one of the many headaches created by our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, due to his penchant for the United Nations (UN).
India got an opportunity to get rid of this headache through the Shimla Accord signed after the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 when the ceasefire lines was converted into a Line of Control (LoC). Logic dictated that since the ceasefire line for which UNMOGIP was instituted had become redundant so had the organisation. Also the Shimla Accord stipulated resolution of border disputes bilaterally between the two nations thus negating any role of the UN. Pakistan nevertheless wanted the organisation to remain so that it could be exploited as and when required. It is a matter of great misfortune that India once again played in the hands of Pakistan.
Pakistan has consistently been playing the UNMOGIP card to its advantage. Let us take our attention back to the gruesome murder of our soldiers by the Pakistani army on the LoC on January 08, 2013. As India rose in collective revulsion, the Pakistani administration instantly denied involvement of their troops and asked for an independent third party investigation by the UN. “Pakistan is prepared to hold investigations through the UNMOGIP on the recent ceasefire violations on the line of control,” said the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad.
The barbaric murder and beheading of the two Indian soldiers comes out clearly as a part of the larger Pakistani plan to leverage UNMOGIP to discredit India in international circles. By demanding a probe Pakistan re-established the credentials of the wholly redundant organisation. In the next step it leaked out reports which stated that the Indian army has beheaded about a dozen Pakistani soldiers along the LoC in the last decade or so.
The Indian establishment is quite alive to what is happening. Ways and means to close down this redundant organisation have been discussed in hushed tones behind closed doors for long now. It is only after the NDA government took oath that this plan has been put to effect. On June 9, 2014, India asked UNMOGIP to vacate the government provided bungalow in New Delhi and also hinted at monetising its other activities. This is a sophisticated way of telling the organisation that it is no longer welcome on Indian soil. “We have said that as far as we are concerned the UNMOGIP has outlived its relevance…,” said Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Syed Akbaruddin.
The loudest voices against this move are coming from the separatist segment in Kashmir. Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has said that by closing the office India is trying to “change the disputed status of Jammu and in international circles” and that Kashmiri’s will “donate money” to pay for the continuance of the office in India.
Yasin Malik organised some public demonstrations which did not invite much participation. Many Kashmir based newspapers have written volumes against the decision. No two guesses required as to where the motivation and funding for this activity is coming from – Pakistan (ISI) of course.
It seems that UNMOGIP has not taken the hint and is ‘identifying possible alternative locations for its office in India’. Having taken the first step and given the body an opportunity to make an honourable exit India should now up the ante and get this chapter closed once and for all. Surely the cash strapped United Nations can put its money and effort to better use.
-Jaibans Singh (The writer is Editor www.defenceinfo.com. E-mail: [email protected])